Reaffirming the Revolution: The Islamic Republic of Iran at 41

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Source

Qasem Soleimani in 2017 rally b3707

In number theory, 41 is a prime number meaning it is not divisible by any number except itself and one.  Similarly, the Islamic Revolution in Iran so far has been unique in its success and indivisible unity of purpose, despite numerous attempts at sabotage by external and internal actors.  At this prime age of 41, Iran is fully capable of charting an assertive leadership path to recapture the spirit and reaffirm the original goals of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, among which is the propagation of Islam to bring about social change for the welfare of all humanity.[2]

It is no minor accomplishment for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have maintained an independent geopolitical course for a period of forty one years in spite of the overwhelming diplomatic, economic and military pressure employed by the United States to force Tehran to cave in to the diktats of the Washington regime. Even before the erstwhile shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had fled the country on January 17, 1979, U.S. air force general Robert E. “Dutch” Huyser had arrived on January 3rd on a mission to test the waters for a rerun of the August 1953 coup, which had originally placed the U.S.-backed dictator in power in the first place.[3]

With the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini (r) went on to found an Islamic Republic, whose constitution (Article 154) explicitly states that Iran “is concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty and sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the world over.”  Imam Khomeini was very clear in his view that “Islam is revealed for mankind,” and, therefore, the revolution must be exported.[4] This concept, which raised fears of popular uprisings toppling the U.S.-abetted tyrants in the region and beyond, put the nascent Islamic Republic on a collision course with the Washington regime.  Among the despotic leaders shaken by Iran’s Islamic Revolution was the U.S.-supported Iraqi dictator, Saddam, who denounced Imam Khomeini and called upon Iranian Arabs to revolt.[5]

If external threats to the newly-established Islamic Republic weren’t enough, others arose internally. Massoumeh Ebtekar, who witnessed the revolution firsthand and is currently Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, recalled that “we were sure that foreign elements were actively involved in attempts to weaken and undermine the young republic.” To avert the suspected foreign plot to overthrow the Iranian government, a group of students, including now Vice President Ebtekar, decided to act, and on November 4, 1979 occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran and detained the staff.[6]  U.S. president Jimmy Carter responded ten days later by freezing US $12 billion’s worth of Iran’s assets in the U.S., and later banned all trade with and travel to Iran.[7] Also affected were Iranian assets in U.S. banks in Britain, much of which were in Bank of America’s London branch.[8]  The following year on April 7, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Iran, and has never reinstated them.[9]  If Carter had not allowed the deposed shah entry to the U.S., the embassy takeover most likely would not have occurred.[10]

Another internal threat, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), was openly unhappy over the constitution, which, according to them, did not address their demands.  After a humiliating defeat in the March and May 1980 parliamentary elections (no MeK candidates were elected),[11] the MeK became increasingly belligerent over their lack of position in the new government, directing their frustration ever more violently towards members of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), which had won a decisive victory in the elections.  Despite the electoral defeat, the MeK openly backed Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Bani Sadr, however, following his removal from office for incompetency in June 1981, the MeK declared an armed struggle against the standing government. On June 28, 1981 and again on August 30, the MeK carried out terror bombing attacks against the IRP and government leaders.  In 1986, the MeK moved its operations to Iraq and aligned itself with Saddam, who backed the terrorist group until being ousted by the U.S. invasion in 2003. To date, the Washington regime views the MeK as a viable means by which to overthrow the legitimate government of Iran.[12]

Following the student takeover of the U.S. embassy, which was later shown to be a nerve center for CIA espionage in the region,[13] U.S. president Carter ordered a desperate mission on April 24, 1980 to invade Iran and free the hostages despite negotiations for their release still being in progress.[14] The so-called hostage crisis and the U.S. president’s failed interventionist response provided a perpetual pretext for Washington’s vehemently vindictive view against reestablishing any level of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The 444-day crisis, according to sworn testimony by Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben-Menashe, was a joint effort by the CIA and Mossad to delay the release of the 52 hostages and thereby ensure an electoral victory for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 U.S. presidential race.[15]

In the midst of the post-revolutionary struggle to establish a fully functioning Islamic government, Iraqi dictator Saddam, with U.S. blessing, attacked the fledgling Islamic Republic on September 22, 1980, imposing a costly 8-year-long war that consumed some 60 to 70 percent of Iran’s national budget, not to mention the suffering of the Iranian people and their sacrifices in defense of Iran and Islam.[16]  The economic impact of the war on Iran itself was enormous with estimated direct costs in the range of US $600 billion and total cost of US $1 trillion.[17]  In the course of this U.S.-supported war, chemical agents were used extensively for the first time since the First World War, resulting in the deaths of some 4,700 Iranians in a single attack.  The U.S. also provided Saddam with biological agents such as anthrax and E. coli.[18]

Howard Teicher, director of political-military affairs for the U.S. National Security Council from 1982 to 1987, in an affidavit stated, “CIA Director [William] Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war.” Teicher also testified that U.S. president Reagan had sent a secret message to Saddam advising him that “Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran.”  Teicher’s sworn testimony provides strong evidence that the U.S. intent was for Saddam to bomb Iranian cities, thereby unavoidably targeting civilians.[19]

Saddam followed Reagan’s advice to the letter by launching eleven SCUD B missiles at Tehran on February 29, 1988.  Over the next two weeks, more than 100 of Saddam’s missiles rained down upon the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan along with bombing raids conducted against a total of 37 Iranian cities. Earlier in October 1987 and again in April 1988, the U.S. as part of its overt but undeclared war against the Islamic Republic, attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms under expanded rules of engagement.[20]  As a result of Washington’s designation of the Persian Gulf as essentially a free-fire zone for Iranian targets, the commander of the USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers, fired two missiles (after twenty-three failed attempts)[21] at what he claimed was a military target but in fact was Iran Air Flight 655 carrying 290 civilian passengers from Bandar Abbas to Dubai.  For downing the civilian airliner and killing all on board, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious service” for this appalling atrocity.[22]

Yet in spite of the near universal support given by the U.S. and its western minions to Saddam, the people of Iran rose up to defend their newly liberated land in what were termed “human wave attacks” in the western press. Giving their lives selflessly in the cause of defending Islam and Iran, these martyrs, whose numbers reached to half a million,[23] struck fear in the black heart of Saddam and presented a conundrum to the materialistic west.  Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains that martyrdom, while clearly understood in the Islamic world, “is incomprehensible and even pointless in materialist and atheistic cultures.”[24]

The incomprehensibility to most westerners of the spiritual basis of Iran’s Islamic Revolution leads to some interesting “anti-explanations.”  Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Charles Kurzman wrote, “After the Iranian Revolution, those who had considered the upheaval unthinkable became preoccupied with understanding how they could have been so mistaken.” After pointing out the shortcomings of the various political, economic, cultural and other explanations, Kurzman notes, “The more I learned about the Iranian Revolution, the more theoretical anomalies I discovered.” Yet this author acknowledges that 55 percent of educated, middle-class Iranians and 71 percent of others he interviewed spoke of Islam as being involved in their decision to participate in the revolution.[25]

Apparently, for secular-leaning western scholars, Islam cannot be accepted as the basis for an explanation of a successful revolution. For example, even Iranian expatriate scholar Ervand Abrahamian blames the Islamic Revolution on “overwhelming pressures” in Iranian society due to the shah, who “was sitting on such a volcano, having alienated almost every sector of society.”[26]  Downplaying the role of Islam in Iran’s revolution, Iranian expatriate scholar Asef Bayat insists that there was a “strong secular tendency,” which peaked in the 1970s.  Bayat incredulously claims, “In Iran, an Islamic movement was in the making when it was interrupted by the Islamic revolution.”[27]  Other scholars date the origin of the Islamic movement in Iran to the tobacco crisis of 1890-1891, while Farhang Rejaee, a professor at the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam in Ottawa, Canada, points to the assassination of Nasr al-Din Shah in 1896.[28]

The current Islamic movement in Iran had begun on the 15th of Khordad, 1342 (June 5, 1963), predating the Islamic Revolution by some 15 years.  In a June 1979 speech marking the anniversary of the 15th of Khordad uprising, Imam Khomeini specifically referred to the Islamic movement and its creation in the mosque network.  “Who are they that wish to divert our Islamic movement from Islam?” asked the Imam. “It was the mosques that created this revolution,” he emphasized, adding. “It was the mosques that brought this [Islamic] movement into being.”[29]  Likewise refuting the theories of the western and westernized scholars, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains, “The secret of success of the Islamic Revolution of Iran also is naught but this: valuing the high ideals of Islam and of the Islamic humanities.”  As to the failure of other revolutions, he blames “want of a sufficient depth in its spiritual dimension.”  Finally, he affirms, “The revolutionary experience of Iran should indeed become a model for others to emulate.”[30]

By basing economics and social change on the solid foundation of Islam, Iran has achieved greater progress in many areas, such as reducing poverty, improving health care, eliminating illiteracy, increasing access to education and expanding opportunities for women, than had been the case during the shah’s regime.   As a result, despite the unending U.S. hostility against Iran through ruthless imposed wars, covert and overt aggressions, punitive economic sanctions and continuous diplomatic isolation, the Islamic Republic has managed to amass an impressive list of accomplishments.  U.S. economic sanctions have had the effect of causing Iran to seek self-sufficiency in a number of areas, including weaponry and other military hardware, food production, steel, paper and paper products, cement, heavy industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. In particular, the domestic production of armaments has helped to ensure the country’s independence and security, as has the highly developed military strategy of the “fast boat swarm” for naval defense in the Persian Gulf.[31]

Moreover, in the field of health care, Iran has made laudable strides, increasing life expectancy from 56 years in the 1970s to over 70, and reducing the infant mortality rate from 104 per 1,000 births to 25.[32]  The Islamic Republic has created, and continuously expanded, a system of hospitals and health clinics, concentrating on areas impacted by economic hardship.  The results have been sufficiently impressive for some universities and NGOs in the U.S. state of Mississippi to introduce Iranian-style health care into the impoverished areas of the Mississippi Delta region.[33] Rural areas also benefitted from the revolution in other ways besides access to health care.  By 2002, rural literacy had risen to 70 percent, each village had an average of two college graduates, and 99 percent of rural households had electricity. In 1976 only ten percent of the rural work force was employed in the industrial, construction and service sectors, whereas 51 percent was employed therein by 1996.[34] Land was redistributed among peasants, who formed numerous cooperatives, which assisted in raising prices for agricultural products.  Even the poorest of Iranians were able to have at least some level of access to modern consumer goods.[35]

“The biggest advances in the educational, professional and social standing of women in Iran’s history have come since the revolution,” wrote scholars Hillary Mann and Flynt Leverett.[36] After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, female literacy rates skyrocketed from 36 percent in 1976 to 74 percent in 1996, with urban women toping 82 percent.[37] Women were provided with the same educational opportunities as men, and were employed in both the public and private sectors.  Not only were women allowed to drive (unlike other “Islamic” countries), but also participated in political, commercial and civil activities, as well as in the security sector.  Health care in the Islamic Republic included women’s clinics, where progressive family planning and other services were available.[38]

“This united gathering which took place in Iran, and this great change which happened, must be taken as an example to be followed and never forgotten,” said Imam Khomeini (r) on 7th of Esfand 1359 (26 February 1981). [39] Despite that to date, no other Muslim-majority nation has yet to emulate successfully the revolutionary path taken by the valiant people of Iran, the paradigm remains as does the potential for Iran’s leadership to bring about a united Islamic Ummah.

Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

January 17, 2020 – 13:2

Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

US President Jimmy Carter Hid Info on «Israeli» Nuke Experiment

US President Jimmy Carter Hid Info on «Israeli» Nuke Experiment

By Staff, Agencies

The “Israeli” entity conducted a nuclear experiment 40 years ago over the South Atlantic, according to Foreign Policy Magazine on Sunday.

The report suggests that then-US President Jimmy Carter would have decided to suppress this information in order preserve a fledgling peace agreement between the “Israeli” entity and Egypt.

Shortly before sunrise on September 22, 1979, a US surveillance satellite called Vela 6911, whose role is to detect nuclear experiments on Earth, recorded an unusual flash over the South Atlantic.

For Patrick Air Force Base personnel, there was no doubt that it was a nuclear explosion.

An alert was issued that night, and, according to the publication, Carter called an emergency meeting at the White House the next day.

The question looming over the US government was who was responsible for the nuclear test, which was quickly boiled down to only two possibilities: South Africa or the “Israeli” entity.

At that time, Israel was one of the few countries to maintain relations with the apartheid regime, including its clandestine security services.

“There would have been a nuclear explosion near South Africa, probably by the South African government, or by ‘Israel’ from a ship, and nothing else,” Jimmy Carter wrote in his diary on September 22, according to Foreign Policy.

But the South African nuclear program was not sufficiently developed.

And just over a year from the presidential elections, Carter decided to ask his officials to bury this information and provide other reasons to explain the appearance of such a flash.

In May 1980, US scientists published a report claiming that it was probably not a nuclear explosion.

Proceeding Republicans and Democrats administrations continued to conceal the information.

Iran got Reagan elected in 1980 – will they get Trump fired in 2020?

June 26, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog (cross-posted by permission with Press TV)

Iran got Reagan elected in 1980 – will they get Trump fired in 2020?

Jimmy Carter’s foolish and feckless opposition to the Iranian Islamic Revolution was perhaps the single-most important reason he was not re-elected in 1980. Nearly 40 years later, Donald Trump is on the brink of allowing Iran to decide yet another US presidential election.

The Pahlavi dynasty was popularly overthrown in February 1979, just as monarchy was deposed in Russia’s “February Revolution” in 1917. Carter’s decision to harbor the royal criminal/US puppet Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the main spark behind Iran’s incredible occupation of the US embassy in November 1979. That was the “real” Iranian Islamic Revolution, because ending monarchy is a rather common historical occurrence (but certainly not common enough in the Muslim and Western worlds). Iran’s historical pathway thus parallels the “real revolution” in 1917 Russia, which actually occurred later that year and is known as the “October Revolution”: the near-bloodless acceptance of the mantle of leadership by the Bolshevik Party. That also created a system which was wholly unique (revolutionary), and which went beyond the mere ending of monarchy.

Let’s remember why the occupation of the US embassy was so very “incredible” – a similar long-term, popularly-supported occupation seems unthinkable today… and yet Honduras – victimized by a coup orchestrated by Hillary Clinton in 2009 – set fire to the entrance of their US embassy in late May. That incident was hushed up by the Western Mainstream Media, of course, but it was impossible to cover-up the 444-day embassy occupation. It was such a face-losing event for Carter and his team of Iranophobes that the anti-imperialist event was the primary cause of Ronald Reagan’s election.

Reagan proved to be no friend to Iran – even though they helped him get a job – because Iranophobia, Islamophobia, and neo-imperialist doctrines reach across decades in Washington, far outstretching any one- or two-term president. Indeed, this constant policy of opposition to Muslim Democracy is why it is foolish to talk of “Trump pulling out of the JCPOA” – rather, it was “Washington” which broke the law unilaterally… again.

Trump’s belligerence, missteps and fascistic stances now have him looking a lot like Carter.

With their claim of having made an “aborted attack” against Iran last week, the US now has one less card to play – a “near attack” can only be followed a “real attack”, lest Washington look like the weak boy who falsely cried wolf. With their sanctions this week on Leader Ali Khamenei, they also now have one less person who will agree to sit at the card table.

The democratic structures of modern Iranian democracy are not complex but they are two things: unique (revolutionary) and totally under-reported in the West. Because there are checks and balances in Iranian democracy, the post (the branch, really) of the Supreme Leader must agree to major diplomatic talks proposed by legislative or executive branch politicians. Alienate the post of the Leader with laughable sanctions and he certainly laughs last at you: you will never negotiate anything serious with Iran.

But Washington has not alienated just one branch of Iran’s government recently: also sanctioning the Revolutionary Guards, upcoming sanctions on a foreign minister (Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif) who had done all he could to further peace and diplomacy for years, an “aborted attack”, illegal drone incursions getting shot down by Iran, $0 in oil sales – and that is just the past two months! Combined with the illegal reneging on the JCPOA, pushing European signatories to essentially renege as well and sanctions on other countries simply for buying an Iranian carpet (which the world desperately needs more of), and it’s clear that the US has alienated all of Iran.

That is not hyperbole from an Iranian commentator on Iranian state media: even The New York Times reported this same widespread sentiment in a (rare non-Iranophobic) article titled, “Iran Greets Latest U.S. Sanctions With Mockery”. They reported, in a surprisingly honest fashion: “An Iranian calling himself K. Jafari wrote in a widely circulated tweet: ‘The only people left to sanction are me, my dad and our neighbor’s kid. The foreign ministry should share Trump’s phone number so we can call him and give him our names.’”

Therefore, Iranian officials recently saying that the path of diplomacy is now permanently closed is not reflecting just one key politician in Iran, but the apparent democratic majority of Iran. Unlike the US or Europe, Iranian policies actually reflect the democratic majority.

Washington has made suspending diplomatic efforts with the US seemingly a democratic necessity for top Iranian politicians, and that could make Trump a one-term president.

The closure of diplomatic talks necessarily implies war – logically, if you reject the former you are only left with the latter. However, all-out war is impossible: Iran refuses it, and after 40 years of good governance, massive redistribution of oil wealth and vast defensive preparations, Iran is impossible to invade and also has scores of millions of willing defenders.

Two adversaries who will never meet toe-to-toe on the field of battle are necessarily limited to skirmishes around it – in places like the Strait of Hormuz. Such skirmishes – which will be regrettable, deadly and solely the fault of Western antagonism – could occur for the next (roughly) 444 days until the US 2020 elections, and will only drive up the price of oil.

That threatens the US economy, and – because the US “recovery” has been limited merely to the creation of new asset bubbles in the stock market, real estate, and other markets frequented by the wealthy – voters could choose to punish Trump by electing a Democrat in 2020.

Iranian politicians will once again play a huge role in an American election: the Principlist Party appears content to watch the JCPOA fail if it helps them retake Parliament in Iran’s May 2020 vote. However, due to Western duplicity, I don’t see what the Principlists could possibly do to get Europe and the US to start honoring their word? On the other side of the aisle, what choice will Reformists have but to also become more anti-US – indeed, Washington is the primary reason for Iran’s economic and diplomatic woes during their watch! Thus, Iranian politicians – after years of attempting détente with the US – appear poised to abandon it until at least May 2020.

So: more lost face for the US as Iran prevails yet again in very limited military skirmishes, more economic pain for the US caused by oil market instability which they provoked, and Iranian domestic politics which are united behind encouraging a change in US leadership.

It’s looking like a repeat of 1980, but with only one hostage – Trump.

Someone in Trump’s circle of fools needs to tell him: even if anti-Iran lobbies are devoted to pushing them no matter how badly they affect the average American, policies aimed at sparking Venezuela-like civil turmoil are doomed to immediate failure in Iran, and will certainly provoke consequences which US voters will remember at election time.

If Trump is foolishly intent on antagonizing Iran even further, I’d advise him to stop until at least 2021 – he can only lose big league (or “bigly”) to use a Trumpian phrase. Or rather, his policies towards Iran can only continue to lose.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski

Part II

Global Research, May 08, 2019

Read Part I from the link below.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

By Janelle Velina, April 30, 2019

Below is the second half and conclusion of “Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War”. While the previous sections examined the economic roots of imperialism, as well as the historical context of the Cold War within which to situate the Mujahideen, the following explores the anatomy of proxy warfare and media disinformation campaigns which were at the heart of destabilizing Afghanistan. These were also a large part of why there was little to no opposition to the Mujahideen from the Western ‘left’, whose continued dysfunctionality cannot be talked about without discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski. We also take a look at what led to the Soviet Union’s demise and how that significantly affected the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for four decades now, and it will reach its 40th year on July 3, 2019. 

The original “moderate rebel”

One of the key players in the anti-Soviet, U.S.-led regime change project against Afghanistan was Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire who came from a wealthy, powerful family that owns a Saudi construction company and has had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before becoming known as America’s “boogeyman”, Osama bin Laden was put in charge of fundraising for the Mujahideen insurgents, creating numerous charities and foundations in the process and working in coordination with Saudi intelligence (who acted as liaisons between the fighters and the CIA). Journalist Robert Fisk even gave bin Laden a glowing review, calling him a “peace warrior” and a philanthropist in a 1993 report for the Independent. Bin Laden also provided recruitment for the Mujahideen and is believed to have also received security training from the CIA. And in 1989, the same year that Soviet troops withdrew, he founded the terrorist organization Al Qaeda with a number of fighters he had recruited to the Mujahideen. Although the PDPA had already been overthrown, and the Soviet Union was dissolved, he still maintained his relationship with the CIA and NATO, working with them from the mid-to-late 1990s to provide support for the secessionist Bosnian paramilitaries and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the destruction and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

The United States would eventually turn Bin Laden into a scapegoat after the 2001 terrorist attacks, while still maintaining ties to his family and providing arms, training, and funding to Al Qaeda and its affiliates (rebranded as “moderate rebels” by the Western media) in its more recent regime change project against Syria, which started in 2011. The Mujahideen not only gave birth to Al Qaeda, but it would set a precedent for the United States’ regime-change operations in later years against the anti-imperialist governments of Libya and Syria.

Reagan entertains Mujahideen fighters in the White House.

With the end to the cycle of World Wars (for the time being, at least), it has become increasingly common for the United States to use local paramilitaries, terrorist groups, and/or the armed forces of comprador regimes to fight against nations targeted by U.S. capital interests. Why the use of proxy forces? They are, as Whitney Webb describes, “a politically safe tool for projecting the U.S.’ geopolitical will abroad.”
Using proxy warfare as a kind of power projection tool is, first and foremost, cost-effective, since paid local mercenaries or terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will bear the burden of combat and casualties rather than American troops in places like Libya and Syria. For example, it costs much less to pay local paramilitaries, gangs, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other reactionary forces to perform the same military operations as U.S. troops. Additionally, with the advent of nuclear weapons it became much more perilous for global superpowers to come into direct combat with one another — if the Soviet Union and the United States had done so, there existed the threat of “mutually assured destruction”, the strong possibility of instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the populations and the economic and living standards of both sides, something neither side was willing to risk, even if it was U.S. imperialism’s ultimate goal to destroy the Soviet Union.
And so, the U.S. was willing to use any other means necessary to weaken the Soviet Union and safeguard its profits, which included eliminating the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan even if it had neither the intent nor the means of launching a military offensive on American soil. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had the means of producing a considerably large supply of modern weapons, including nuclear deterrents, to counter the credible threat posed by the United States. To strike the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles would have been a great challenge for the United States, since it would have resulted in overwhelming retaliation by the Soviet Union. To maneuver this problem, to assure the destruction of the Soviet Union while protecting the U.S. from similar destruction, the CIA relied on more unconventional methods not previously thought of as being part of traditional warfare, such as funding proxy forces while wielding economic and cultural influence over the American domestic sphere and the international scene.

Furthermore, proxy warfare enables control of public opinion, thus allowing the U.S. government to escape public scrutiny and questions about legal authorization for war. With opposition from the general public essentially under control, consent for U.S.-led wars does not need to be obtained, especially when the U.S. military is running them from “behind the scenes” and its involvement looks less obvious. Indeed, the protests against the war on Vietnam in the United States and other Western countries saw mass turnouts.

And while the U.S.-led aggression in Vietnam did involve proxy warfare to a lesser degree, it was still mostly fought with American “boots-on-the-ground”, much like the 2001 renewed U.S.-led aggression against Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In contrast, the U.S. assault on Afghanistan that began in 1979 saw little to no protest. The Mujahideen even garnered support from large portions of the Western left who joined the chorus of voices in the Western mainstream media in demonizing the PDPA — a relentless imperialist propaganda campaign that would be repeated in later years during the U.S. wars on Libya and Syria, with the difference being that social media had not yet gained prominence at the time of the initial assault on Afghanistan. This leads to the next question: why recruit some of the most reactionary social forces abroad, many of whom represent complete backwardness?

In Afghanistan, such forces proved useful in the mission to topple the modernizing government of the PDPA, especially when their anti-modernity aspirations intersected with U.S. foreign policy; these ultra-conservative forces continue to be deployed by the United States today. In fact, the long war on Afghanistan shares many striking similarities with the long war on Syria, with the common theme of U.S. imperialism collaborating with violent Sunni extremists to topple the secular, nationalist and anti-imperialist governments of these two former ‘Soviet bloc’ countries. And much like the PDPA, the current and long-time government of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party in Syria has made many strides towards achieving national liberation and economic development, which have included: taking land from aristocratic families (a majority of whom were Sunni Muslims while Shia Muslims, but especially Alawites, traditionally belonged to the lower classes and were treated as second class citizens in pre-Ba’athist Syria) and redistributing and nationalizing it, making use of Syria’s oil and gas reserves to modernize the country and benefit its population, and upholding women’s rights as an important part of the Ba’athist pillars.

Some of these aristocratic landlords, just like their Afghan counterparts, would react violently and join the Muslim Brotherhood who, with CIA-backing, carried out acts of terrorism and other atrocities in Hama as they made a failed attempt to topple the government of Hafez al Assad in 1982.

The connection between the two is further solidified by the fact that it was the Mujahideen from which Al Qaeda emerged; both are inspired by Wahhabist ideology, and one of their chief financiers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (as well as Israel, a regional imperial power and a key ally of the United States). In either case, these Wahhabi-inspired forces were vehemently opposed to modernization and development, and would much rather keep large sections of the population impoverished, as they sought to replace the PDPA and the Ba’athists with Sunni fundamentalist, anti-Shia, theological autocracies — Saudi-style regimes, in other words.

These reactionary forces are useful tools in the CIA’s anti-communist projects and destabilization campaigns against independent nationalist governments, considering that the groups’ anti-modernity stance is a motivating factor in their efforts to sabotage economic development, which is conducive to ensuring a favourable climate for U.S. capital interests. It also helps that these groups already saw the nationalist governments of the PDPA and the Syrian Ba’ath party as their ‘archenemy’, and would thus fight them to the death and resort to acts of terrorism against the respective civilian populations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in response to the following question:

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

[Brzezinski]: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Once again, he makes it clear that the religious extremism of the Mujahideen fighters was not an issue for Washington because the real political value lay in eliminating the PDPA and putting an end to Soviet influence in the Greater Middle East, which would give the U.S. the opportunity to easily access and steal the country’s wealth. And in order to justify the U.S. imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to obscure the true nature of the Mujahideen fighters, the intervention needed to be accompanied by a rigorous mass media campaign. The Reagan administration — knowing full well that American mainstream media has international influence — continued the war that the Carter administration started and saw it as an opportunity to “step up” its domestic propaganda war, considering that the American general public was still largely critical of the Vietnam War at the time.

As part of the aggressive imperialist propaganda campaign, anyone who dared to publicly criticize the Mujahideen was subjected to character assassination and was pejoratively labelled a “Stalinist” or a “Soviet apologist”, which are akin to labels such as “Russian agent” or “Assadist” being used as insults today against those who speak out against the U.S.-backed terrorism in Syria. There were also careful rebranding strategies made specifically for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen mercenaries, who were hailed as “revolutionary freedom fighters” and given a romantic, exoticized “holy warrior” makeover in Western media; hence the title of this section. The Mujahideen mercenaries were even given a dedication title card at the end of the Hollywood movie Rambo III which read, “This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan”; the film itself added to the constructed romantic image as it portrayed the Mujahideen fighters as heroes, while the Soviet Union and the PDPA were portrayed as the cartoonish villains. The Rambo film franchise is well known for its depiction of the Vietnamese as “savages” and as the aggressors in the U.S. war on Vietnam, which is a blatant reversal of the truth.

The Hollywood blockbuster franchise would be used to make the Mujahideen more palatable to Western audiences, as this unabashed, blatantly anti-Soviet propaganda for U.S. imperialism attracted millions of viewers with one of the largest movie marketing campaigns of the time. Although formulaic, the films are easily consumable because they appeal to emotion and, as Michael Parenti states in Dirty Truths, “The entertainment industry does not merely give the people what they want: it is busy shaping those wants,” (p. 111). Rambo III may not have been critically acclaimed, but it was still the second most commercially successful film in the Rambo series, grossing a total of $189,015,611 at the box office. Producing war propaganda films is nothing new and has been a long staple of the Hollywood industry, which serves capitalist and imperialist interests. But, since the blockbuster movie is one of the most widely available and distributed forms of media, repackaging the Mujahideen into a popular film franchise was easily one of the best ways (albeit cynical) to justify the war, maintaining the American constructed narrative and reinforcing the demonization campaign against Soviet Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Now, outside of the cinema, CBS News went as far as to air fake battle footage meant to help perpetuate the myth that the Mujahideen mercenaries were “freedom fighters”; American journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, although decidedly biased against the Soviet Union and its allies, documented this ruse in which the news channel participated. In terms of proxy warfare, these were just some of the ways used to distract from the fact that it was a U.S.-led war.

The dedication title card as it originally appeared at the end of the film Rambo III.

In Afghanistan, proxy forces provided a convenient cover because they drew attention away from the fact that U.S. imperialism was the root cause of the conflict. The insurgents also helped to demonize the targets of U.S. foreign policy, the PDPA and the Soviet Union, all the while doing the majority of the physical combat in place of the American military. In general, drawing attention away from the fact that it has been the United States “pulling the strings” all along, using proxy forces helps Washington to maintain plausible deniability in regard to its relationship with such groups. If any one of these insurgents becomes a liability, as what had happened with the Taliban, they can just as easily be disposed of and replaced by more competent patsies, while U.S. foreign policy goes unquestioned. Criminal gangs and paramilitary forces are thus ideal and convenient tools for U.S. foreign policy. With the rule of warlords and the instability (namely damage to infrastructure, de-industrialization, and societal collapse) that followed after the toppling of the PDPA, Afghanistan’s standard of living dropped rapidly, leading to forced mass migrations and making the country all the more vulnerable to a more direct U.S. military intervention — which eventually did happen in 2001.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: godfather of colour revolutions and proxy wars, architect of the Mujahideen

The late Brzezinski was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy and a highly influential figure in the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Polish-American diplomat and political scientist was no longer the National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he still continued to play a prominent role in enforcing U.S. foreign policy goals in upholding Washington’s global monopoly. The liberal Cold War ideologue’s signature strategy consisted of using the CIA to destabilize and force regime-change onto countries whose governments actively resisted against Washington. Such is the legacy of Brzezinski, whose strategy of funding the most reactionary anti-government forces to foment chaos and instability while promoting them as “freedom fighters” is now a longstanding staple of U.S. imperialism.

How were the aggressive propaganda campaigns which promoted the Mujahideen mercenaries as “freedom fighters” able to garner support for the aggression against the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from so many on the Western left who had previously opposed the war on Vietnam? It was the through the CIA’s use of ‘soft-power’ schemes, because leftist opinion also needed to be controlled and manipulated in the process of carrying out U.S. foreign and public policy. Brzezinski mastered the art of targeting intelligentsia and impressionable young people in order to make them supportive of U.S. foreign policy, misleading a significant number of people into supporting U.S.-led wars.

The CIA invested money into programs that used university campus, anti-Soviet “radical leftist activists” and academics (as well as artists and writers) to help spread imperialist propaganda dressed up in vaguely “leftist”-sounding language and given a more “hip”, “humanitarian”, “social justice”, “free thinker” appeal. Western, but especially American, academia has since continued to teach the post-modernist “oppression theory” or “privilege theory” to students, which is anti-Marxist and anti-scientific at its core. More importantly, this post-modernist infiltration was meant to distract from class struggle, to help divert any form of solidarity away from anti-imperialist struggles, and to foster virulent animosity towards the Soviet Union among students and anyone with ‘leftist’ leanings. Hence the phenomenon of identity politics that continues to plague the Western left today, whose strength was effectively neutered by the 1970s. Not only that, but as Gowans mentions in his book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom:

“U.S. universities recruit talented individuals from abroad, instill in them the U.S. imperialist ideology and values, and equip them with academic credentials which conduce to their landing important political positions at home. In this way, U.S. imperial goals indirectly structure the political decision-making of other countries.” (pp. 52-53)

And so we have agencies and think-tanks such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has scholarly appeal and actively interferes in elections abroad — namely, in countries that are targets of U.S. foreign policy. Founded in 1983 by Reagan and directed by the CIA, the agency also assists in mobilizing coups and paid “dissidents” in U.S.-led regime change projects, such as the 2002 failed attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as well as helping to create aggressive media campaigns that demonize targeted nations. Another instance of this “soft power” tactic of mobilizing U.S.-backed “dissidents” in targeted nations are the number of Sunni Islamic fundamentalist madrassas (schools) sponsored by the CIA and set up by Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan — which started to appear in increasing numbers during the 1980s, reaching over 39,000 during the decade. Afghanistan’s public education institutions were largely secular prior to the fall of Kabul in 1992; these madrassas were the direct, ideological and intellectual antitheses to the existing institutions of education. The madrassas acted as centres for cult-like brainwashing and were essentially CIA covert psychological operations (psy-ops) intended to inspire divisiveness and demobilize younger generations of Afghans in the face of imperial onslaught so that they would not unite with the wider PDPA-led nationalist resistance to imperialism.

The NED’s founding members were comprised of Cold War ideologues which included Brzezinski himself, as well as Trotskyists who provided an endless supply of slurs against the Soviet Union. It was chiefly under this agency, and with direction provided by Brzezinski, that America produced artists, “activists”, academics, and writers who presented themselves as “radical leftists” and slandered the Soviet Union and countries that were aligned with it — which was all part of the process of toppling them and subjugating them to U.S. free market fundamentalism. With Brzezinski having mastered the art of encouraging postmodernism and identity politics among the Western left in order to weaken it, the United States not only had military and economic might on its side but also highly sophisticated ideological instruments to help give it the upper hand in propaganda wars.

These “soft power” schemes are highly effective in masking the brutality of U.S. imperialism, as well as concealing the exploitation of impoverished nations. Marketing the Mujahideen mercenaries as “peace warriors” while demonizing the PDPA and referring to the Soviet assistance as an “invasion” or “aggression” marked the beginning of the regular use of “humanitarian” pretexts for imperialist interventions. The Cold War era onslaught against Afghanistan can thus be seen as the template for the NATO-led regime change projects against Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, which not only involved the use of U.S.-backed proxy forces but also “humanitarian” pretexts being presented in the aggressive propaganda campaigns against the targeted countries. It was not until 2002, however, that then-American UN representative Samantha Powers, as well as several U.S.-allied representatives, would push the United Nations to officially adopt the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine into the Charter — which was in direct contradiction to the law that recognizes the violation of a nation’s sovereignty as a crime. The R2P doctrine was born out of the illegal 78-day NATO air-bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999. And although plans to dismantle Yugoslavia go as far back as 1984, it was not until much of the 1990s that NATO would begin openly intervening — with more naked aggression — starting with the funding and support for secessionist paramilitary forces in Bosnia between 1994-1995. It then sealed the 1999 destruction of Yugoslavia with with the balkanization of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In addition to the use of terrorist and paramilitary groups as proxy forces which received CIA-training and funding, another key feature of this “humanitarian” intervention was the ongoing demonization campaigns against the Serbs, who were at the centre of a vicious Western media propaganda war. Some of the most egregious parts of these demonization campaigns — which were tantamount to slander and libel — were the claims that the Serbs were “committing genocide” against ethnic Albanians. The NATO bombing campaign was illegal since it was given no UN Security Council approval or support.

Once again, Brzezinski was not the National Security Advisor during the U.S.-led campaign against Yugoslavia. However, he still continued to wield influence as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization and Wall Street think tank. The Council on Foreign Relations is intertwined with highly influential NGOs who are essentially propaganda mouthpieces for U.S. foreign policy, such as Human Rights Watch, which has fabricated stories of atrocities allegedly committed by countries targeted by U.S. imperialism. Clearly, unmitigated U.S. imperial aggression did not end with the destruction of the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, nor with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War years were a continuation of U.S. imperialism’s scramble for more spheres of influence and global domination; it was also a scramble for what was left of the former ‘Soviet bloc’ and Warsaw Pact. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was, figuratively speaking, the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of whatever ‘Soviet influence’ was left in Eastern Europe.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the “Afghan trap” question

Image on the right: Left to right: former Afghan President Babrak Karmal, and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Karmal took office at around the same time (December 1979) the PDPA requested that Moscow intervene to assist the besieged Afghanistan.

The sabotage and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that only one global hegemon remained, and that was the United States. Up until 1989, the Soviet Union had been the barrier that was keeping the United States from launching a more robust military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as in Central and West Asia. While pulling out did not immediately cause the defeat of Kabul as the PDPA government forces continued to struggle for another three years, Mikhail Gorbachev’s decision to withdraw Soviet troops arguably had a detrimental impact on Afghanistan for many years to come. Although there was no Soviet military assistance in the last three years of Najibullah’s presidency, Afghanistan continued to receive aid from the USSR, and some Soviet military advisers (however limited in their capacity) still remained; despite the extreme difficulties, and combined with the nation’s still-relatively high morale, this did at least help to keep the government from being overthrown immediately. This defied U.S. expectations as the CIA and the George H.W. Bush administration had believed that the government of Najibullah would fall as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn. But what really hurt the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s army was when the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991; almost as soon as the dissolution happened and Boris Yeltsin (with U.S. backing) took over as Russia’s president, the aid stopped coming and the government forces became unable to hold out for much longer. The U.S. aggression was left unchecked, and to this day Afghanistan has not seen geopolitical stability and has since been a largely impoverished ‘failed state’, serving as a training ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. It continues to be an anarchic battleground between rival warlords which include the ousted Taliban and the U.S. puppet government that replaced them.

But, as was already mentioned above, the “Afghan trap” did not, in and of itself, cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In that same interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski had this to say in response to the question about setting the “trap”:

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

[Brzezinski]: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Likewise with Cuba and Syria, the USSR had a well-established alliance with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, one of mutual aid and partnership. Answering Kabul’s explicit request for assistance was a deliberate and conscious choice made by Moscow, and it just so happened that the majority of Afghans welcomed it. For any errors that Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary at the time, may have made (which do deserve a fair amount of criticism, but are not the focus of this article), the 1979 decision to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan against U.S. imperialism was not one of them. It is true that both the Soviet and the U.S. interventions were military interventions, but the key difference is that the U.S. was backing reactionary forces for the purposes of establishing colonial domination and was in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty. Consider, too, that Afghanistan had only deposed of its king in 1973, just six years before the conflict began. The country may have moved quickly to industrialize and modernize, but it wasn’t much time to fully develop its military defenses by 1979.

Image below: Mikhail Gorbachev accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990. Many Russians saw this gesture as a betrayal, while the West celebrated it, because he was being awarded for his capitulation to U.S. imperialism in foreign and economic policy.

Other than that, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Soviet Union imploded due to an accumulating number of factors: namely, the gradual steps that U.S. foreign policy had taken over the years to cripple the Soviet economy, especially after the deaths of Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. How Gorbachev responded during the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan certainly helped to exacerbate the conditions that led to the dissolution. After the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union’s economy became disorganized and was being liberalized during much of the 1980s. Not only that, but the Reagan administration escalated the arms race, which intensified after they had scrapped the ‘detente’ that was previously made in the mid-1970s. Even prior to Reagan’s hardline, bombastic rhetoric and escalation against the USSR, the Soviet Union was already beginning to show signs of strain from the arms race during the late-1970s. However, in spite of the economic strains, during the height of the war the organized joint operations between the Soviet army and the Afghan army saw a significant amount of success in pushing back against the Mujahideen with many of the jihadist leaders either being killed or fleeing to Pakistan. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that intervening in Afghanistan on behalf of the Afghan people “did the Soviet Union in.”

In a misguided and ultimately failed attempt to spur economic growth rates, Gorbachev moved to end the Cold War by withdrawing military support from allies and pledging cooperation with the United States who promised “peace”. When he embraced Neoliberalism and allowed for the USSR to be opened to the U.S.-dominated world capitalist economy, the Soviet economy imploded and the effects were felt by its allies. It was a capitulation to U.S. imperialism, in other words; and it led to disastrous results not only in Afghanistan, but in several other countries as well. These include: the destruction of Yugoslavia, both wars on Iraq, and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya. Also, Warsaw Pact members in Eastern Europe were no longer able to effectively fight back against U.S.-backed colour revolutions; some of them would eventually be absorbed as NATO members, such as Czechoslovakia which was dissolved and divided into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without Soviet Russia to keep it in check, the United States was able to launch an unrestrained series of aggressions for nearly two decades. Because of his decision to withdraw from the arms race altogether, in a vain attempt to transform the Soviet Union into a social democracy akin to those of the Nordic countries, Gorbachev had deprived the Russian army of combat effectiveness by making significant cuts to its defense budget, which is partly why they were forced to evacuate. Not only that, but these diplomatic and military concessions with the United States gave them no benefit in return, hence the economic crisis in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Suffice to say, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin years are not remembered fondly in Russia and many regard Gorbachev as a traitor and Western agent who helped to bring the Soviet Union to its collapse. In more recent years, efforts are being made to assess the actions taken by Gorbachev with regards to Afghanistan; this includes going against and revising the resolution put forth by him which suggested that the USSR intervention was “shameful”.

In short, Afghanistan did not cause the Soviet Union’s demise even if it required large military spending. More accurately: it was Gorbachev’s impulsive decision to quickly discard the planned economy in favour of a market economy in order to appease the United States, who made the false promise that NATO would not expand eastward. If there was a real “trap”, it was this and Gorbachev played right into the hands of U.S. imperialism; and so, the Soviet Union received its devastating blow from the United States in the end — not from a small, minor nation such as Afghanistan which continues to suffer the most from the effects of these past events. For many years, but especially since the end of WWII, the United States made ceaseless efforts to undermine the USSR, adding stress upon stress onto its economy, in addition to the psychological warfare waged through the anti-Soviet propaganda and military threats against it and its allies. Despite any advances made in the past, the Soviet Union’s economy was still not as large as that of the United States. And so, in order to keep pace with NATO, the Soviet Union did not have much of a choice but to spend a large percentage of its GDP on its military and on helping to defend its allies, which included national liberation movements in the Third World, because of the very real and significant threat that U.S. imperialism posed. If it had not spent any money militarily, its demise would most likely have happened much sooner. But eventually, these mounting efforts by U.S. imperialism created a circumstance where its leadership under Gorbachev made a lapse in judgment, reacting impulsively and carelessly rather than acting with resilience in spite of the onslaught.

It should also be taken into account that WWII had a profound impact on Soviet leadership — from Joseph Stalin to Gorbachev — because even though the Red Army was victorious in defeating the Nazis, the widespread destruction had still placed the Soviet economy under an incredible amount of stress and it needed time to recover. Meanwhile, the convenient geographical location of the United States kept it from suffering the same casualties and infrastructural damage seen across Europe and Asia as a result of the Second World War, which enabled its economy to recover much faster and gave it enough time to eventually develop the U.S. Dollar as the international currency and assert dominance over the world economy. Plus, the U.S. had accumulated two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves by 1944 to help back the Dollar; and even if it lost a large amount of the gold, it would still be able to maintain Dollar supremacy by developing the fiat system to back the currency. Because of the destruction seen during WWII, it is understandable that the Soviet Union wanted to avoid another world war, which is why it also made several attempts at achieving some kind of diplomacy with the United States (before Gorbachev outright capitulated). At the same time, it also understood that maintaining its military defenses was important because of the threat of a nuclear war from the United States, which would be much more catastrophic than the Nazis’ military assaults against the Soviet Union since Hitler did not have a nuclear arsenal. This was part of a feat that U.S. imperialism was able to accomplish that ultimately overshadowed British, French, German, and Japanese imperialism, which Brzezinski reveals in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives: an unparalleled military establishment that, by far, had the most effective global reach which allowed the U.S. to “project forces over long distances”, helping it to assert its global domination and impose its “political will”. And what makes the American Empire distinct from the Japanese Empire, British Empire, and other European empires is that one of the bases for its ideology is the socially constructed international hierarchy of nations, and not races as was the case with the other aforementioned empires. This constructed international hierarchy of nations is more effective because it means not only greater expansionism, but also the greater ability to exercise global primacy and supremacy. More specific to Central Asia and the Middle East, the Wahhabist and Salafist groups propped up by the CIA were always intended to nurture sectarianism and discord in order to counter a mass, broad-based united front of nations against imperialism — an example of divide-and-conquer, which is an age-old tradition of empire, except this time with Neoliberal characteristics.

Therefore, the Mujahideen against Afghanistan should not be thought of simply as “the Afghan trap”, but rather as the U.S. subjugation and plundering of West and Central Asia and an important milestone (albeit a cynical one) in shaping its foreign policy with regards to the region for many years to come. If one thing has remained a constant in U.S. foreign policy towards West and Central Asia, it is its strategic partnership with the oil autocracy of Saudi Arabia, which acts as the United States’ steward in safeguarding the profits of American petroleum corporations and actively assists Western powers in crushing secular Arab and Central Asian nationalist resistance against imperialism. The Saudi monarchy would again be called on by the U.S. government in 2011 in Syria to assist in the repeated formula of funding and arming so-called “moderate rebels” in the efforts to destabilize the country. Once again, the ultimate goal in this more recent imperial venture is to contain Russia.

Cold War 2.0? American Supremacy marches on

The present-day anti-Russia hysteria is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era; while anti-communism is not the central theme today, one thing remains the same: the fact that the U.S. Empire is (once again) facing a formidable challenge to its position in the world. After the Yeltsin years were over, and under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s economy eventually recovered and moved towards a more dirigiste economy; and on top of that, it moved away from the NATO fold, which triggered the old antagonistic relationship with the United States. Russia has also decided to follow the global trend of taking the step towards reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar, which is no doubt a source of annoyance to the U.S. capitalist class. It seems that a third world war in the near future is becoming more likely as the U.S. inches closer to a direct military confrontation against Russia and, more recently, China. History does appear to be repeating itself. When the government of Bashar al Assad called on Moscow for assistance in fighting against the NATO-backed terrorists, it certainly was reminiscent of when the PDPA had done the same many years before. Thus far, the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to withstand the destabilization efforts carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups and Kurdish militias at the behest of the United States, and has not collapsed as Libya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan did.

But what often gets overlooked is the repeated Brzezinskist formula of funding highly reactionary forces and promoting them as “revolutionaries” to Western audiences in order to fight governments that defy the global dictatorship of the United States and refuse to allow the West to exploit their natural resources and labour power. As Karl Marx once said, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Such a phenomenon is no accident or a mere mistake. The geopolitical instability that followed after the overthrow of the PDPA ensures that no sound, united, and formidable opposition against U.S. imperialism will emerge for an indefinite number of years; and it seems that Libya, where the Brzezinskist-style of regime change also saw success and which is now a hotbed for the slave trade, is on the same path as Afghanistan. This is all a part of what Lenin calls moribund capitalism when he discussed the economic essence of imperialism; and by that, he meant that imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to the extreme limit. American global monopoly had grown out of U.S. foreign policy, and it should go without saying that the American Empire cannot tolerate losing its Dollar Supremacy, especially when the global rate of profit is falling. And if too many nations reject U.S. efforts to infiltrate their markets and force foreign finance capital exports onto their economies in order to gain a monopoly over the resources, as well as to exploit the labour of their working people, it would surely spell a sharp decline in American Dollar hegemony. The fact that the United States was willing to go as far as to back mercenaries to attack the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and fight the Soviet Union, as well as to spend billions of dollars on a highly elaborate but effective propaganda campaign, shows a sign of desperation of the American Empire in maintaining its global hegemony.

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, and is by and large still, the overwhelming world-dominating power. It is true that the American Empire is in decline, in light of increasing trends towards “de-Dollarization,” as well as the rise of China and Russia which pose as challenges to U.S. interests. Naturally, Washington will desperately try to cling on to its number one position in the world by accelerating the growth of its global monopolies — whether it is through placing wholly unnecessary tariffs against competitors such as China, or threatening to completely cut Venezuelan and Iranian oil out of the global market — even if it means an increasing drive towards World War III. The current global economic order which Washington elites have been instrumental in shaping over the past several decades reflects the interests of the global capitalist class to such an extent that the working class is threatened with yet another world war despite the unimaginable carnage witnessed during the first two.

When we look back at these historical events to help make sense of the present, we see how powerful mass media can be and how it is used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy to manipulate and control public opinion. Foreign policy is about the economic relationships between countries. Key to understanding how U.S. imperialism functions is in its foreign policy and how it carries it out — which adds up to plundering from relatively small or poorer nations more than a share of wealth and resources that can be normally produced in common commercial exchanges, forcing them to be indebted; and if any of them resist, then they will almost certainly be subjected to military threats.

With the great wealth that allowed it to build a military that can “project forces over long distances,” the United States is in a unique position in history, to say the least. However, as we have seen above, the now four decade-long war on Afghanistan was not only fought on a military front considering the psy-ops and the propaganda involved. If anything, the Soviet Union lost on the propaganda front in the end.

From Afghanistan we learn not only of the origins of Al Qaeda, to which the boom in the opioid-addiction epidemic has ties, or why today we have the phenomenon of an anti-Russia Western “left” that parrots imperialist propaganda and seems very eager to see that piece of Cold War history repeat itself in Syria. We also learn that we cannot de-link the events of the 2001 direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and what followed from those of 1979; Afghanistan’s colonial-feudal past, its break from that with the 1978 Saur Revolution, and the U.S.-led Mujahideen are all as much of a part of its history (and the Greater Middle East, by extension) as the events of 2001. It cannot be stressed enough that it is those historical conditions, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy, that helped to shape the ongoing conflict today.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. It is not in the interests of the working class anywhere, in the Global South or in the Global North, to see a third world war happen, as such a war would have catastrophic consequences for everyone — in fact, it could potentially destroy all of humanity. Building a new and revitalized anti-war movement in the imperialist nations is a given, but it also requires a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. Without historical context, Western mass media will continue to go unchallenged, weaning audiences on a steady diet of “moderate rebels” propaganda and effectively silencing the victims of imperialism. It is necessary to unite workers across the whole world according to their shared interests in order to effectively fight and defeat imperialism and to establish a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world under socialism. Teaching the working class everywhere the real history of such conflicts as the one in Afghanistan is an important part of developing the revolutionary consciousness necessary to build a strong global revolutionary movement against imperialism.

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Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here.

Janelle Velina is a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org and LLCO.org. She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com.

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

Part I

July 3, 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of when the United States’ first military assault against Afghanistan with the CIA-backed Mujahideen began. It would be a mistake to treat the present-day conflict as being separate from the U.S. intervention that began in 1979 against the then-government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was not always known as the chaotic, ‘failed state’ overrun by warlords as it is now; this phenomenon is a product of that U.S.-led regime change operation. The article below, originally published on March 30, 2019, summarizes and analyzes the events that transpired during and after the Cold War years as they relate to this often misunderstood, if not overlooked, aspect of the long war against Afghanistan. 

When it comes to war-torn Afghanistan and the role played by the United States and its NATO allies, what comes first to mind for most is the ‘War on Terror’ campaign launched in 2001 by George W. Bush almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks. And understandably so, considering that the United States and its allies established a direct “boots-on-the-ground” military presence in the country that year. Not only that, but during the Bush-Cheney years, there was an aggressive propaganda campaign being played out across U.S. media outlets which used women’s rights as one of the pretexts for the continued occupation. The irony of this, however, is not lost on those who understand that the conflict in Afghanistan has a long history which, much like Syria, stretches as far back as the Cold War era — especially when it was the United States that provided support for the Mujahideen in destabilizing the country and stripping away the modernizing, progressive economic and social gains, including Afghan women’s emancipation, which the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) had fought for. With the overthrow of the independent Soviet-aligned PDPA government, the Taliban emerged as a powerful faction of the Mujahideen; the U.S. would develop a working relationship with the Taliban in 1995. The war was never truly about women’s rights or other humanitarian concerns, as Stephen Gowans explains:

“Further evidence of Washington’s supreme indifference to the rights of women abroad is evidenced by the role it played in undermining a progressive government in Afghanistan that sought to release women from the grip of traditional Islamic anti-women practices. In the 1980s, Kabul was “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs.” There were female members of parliament, and women drove cars, and travelled and went on dates, without needing to ask a male guardian for permission. That this is no longer true is largely due to a secret decision made in the summer of 1979 by then US president Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to draw “the Russians into the Afghan trap” and give “to the USSR its Vietnam War” by bankrolling and organizing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists to fight a new government in Kabul led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan.

The goal of the PDPA was to liberate Afghanistan from its backwardness. In the 1970s, only 12 percent of adults were literate. Life expectancy was 42 years and infant mortality the highest in the world. Half the population suffered from TB and one-quarter from malaria.”

Moreover, and contrary to the commonly held belief that the conflict in Afghanistan started in 2001, it would be more accurate to say that the war started in 1979. As a matter of fact, the Carter Administration’s 1979 decision to overthrow the PDPA and destabilize Afghanistan is at the root of why the country is in the state that it continues to be in today.

Afghan women during the PDPA era vs. Afghan women today.

The Cold War – a new phase in the age of imperialism

The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s military welcome their Soviet counterparts

The 1979 to 1989 period of the Mujahideen onslaught is often referred to as the ‘Soviet-Afghan War’ because of the Soviet army’s heavy involvement. Although it is true that they were heavily involved, it is not an entirely accurate descriptor because it completely ignores the fact that it was a war that was actually crafted, instigated, and led by the United States. In what was also known then as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the years from 1978 to 1992 are inextricably linked with Soviet history — but not because it was a Soviet “invasion” of Afghanistan and that the West had to intervene to stop it, as U.S. imperialist propaganda would have us believe. The Carter administration had already begun the planning, recruitment, and training for the Mujahideen in 1978 and had launched the attack on Afghanistan months before the Soviet army militarily intervened near the end of 1979. Also, the “Afghan trap” alone did not cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union; however, it was related. But more on that when we look at the Gorbachev years. Nevertheless, the destruction of Afghanistan was declared as a final blow to the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution was celebrated as “the victory of capitalism over communism” by the United States. To begin to understand the conflict in Afghanistan, it is important to examine the context in which it began: the Cold War.

In the early 1900s, Vladimir Lenin observed that capitalism had entered into its globalist phase and that the age of imperialism had begun; this means that capitalism must expand beyond national borders, and that there is an internal logic to Empire-building and imperialist wars of aggression. Lenin defines imperialism as such:

“the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”

It should be clear that imperialism is not just merely the imposition of a country’s will on the rest of the world (although that is certainly a part of it). More precisely: it is a result of capital accumulation and is a process of empire-building and maintenance, which comes with holding back development worldwide and keeping the global masses impoverished; it is the international exercise of domination guided by economic interests. Thus, imperialism is less of a cultural phenomenon, and more so an economic one.

Lenin also theorized that imperialism and the cycle of World Wars were the products of competing national capitals between the advanced nations. As he wrote in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, World War I was about the competition between major imperialist powers — such as the competing capitals of Great Britain and Germany — over the control of and the split of plunder from colonies. Thus, finance capital was the driving force behind the exploitation and colonization of the oppressed nations; these antagonisms would eventually lead to a series of world wars as Lenin had predicted. During the First World War, the goals of the two imperial blocs of power were the acquisition, preservation, and expansion of territories considered to be strategic points and of great importance to their national economies. And during the Great Depression, protectionist measures were taken up by Britain, the United States, and France to restrict the emerging industrial nations — Germany, Italy, and Japan, also known as the Axis states — from access to more colonies and territories, thereby restricting them from access to raw materials and markets in the lead up to World War II. In particular, the two advanced capitalist industrialized powers of Germany and Japan, in their efforts to conquer new territory, threatened the economic space of Britain, the U.S., and France and threatened to take their territories, colonies, and semi-colonies by force — with Germany launching a series of aggressions in most of Europe, and Japan in Asia. WWII was, in many ways, a re-ignition of the inter-imperialist rivalry between the Anglo-French bloc and the German bloc, but with modern artillery and the significant use of aerial assaults. It was also a period of the second stage of the crisis of capitalism which saw the rise of Fascism as a reaction to Communism, with the Axis states threatening to establish a world-dominating fascist regime. For the time being, WWII would be the last we would see of world wars.

At the end of WWII, two rival global powers emerged: the United States and the Soviet Union; the Cold War was a manifestation of their ideological conflict. The Cold War era was a new phase for international capital as it saw the advent of nuclear weapons and the beginning stages of proxy warfare. It was a time when the imperialist nations, regardless of which side they were on during WWII, found a common interest in stopping the spread of Communism and seeking the destruction of the Soviet Union. By extension, these anti-communist attacks would be aimed at the Soviet-allied nations as well. This would increase the number of client states with puppet governments acting in accordance with U.S. interests who would join the NATO bloc with the ultimate aim of isolating the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that the end of WWII marked the end of competing national capitals such that now, financial capital exists globally and can move instantaneously, with Washington being the world dominating force that holds a monopoly over the global markets. Those countries who have actively resisted against the U.S. Empire and have not accepted U.S. capital into their countries are threatened with sanctions and military intervention — such as the independent sovereign nations of Syria and North Korea who are, to this day, still challenging U.S. hegemony. Afghanistan under the PDPA was one such country which stood up to U.S. imperialism and thus became a target for regime change.

In addition to implementing land reforms, women’s rights, and egalitarian and collectivist economic policies, the PDPA sought to put an end to opium poppy cultivation. The British Empire planted the first opium poppy fields in Afghanistan during the 1800s when the country was still under the feudal landholding system; up until the king was deposed in 1973, the opium trade was a lucrative business and the Afghan poppy fields produced more than 70 percent of opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. These reforms in 1978 would eventually attract opposition from the United States, which had already embarked on its anti-communist crusade, providing backing to reactionary forces dedicated to fighting against various post-colonial progressive governments, many of which were a part of the ‘Soviet Bloc’ — such as the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua who mounted violent opposition to the Sandinista government. Despite having gained independence on its own merits, Afghanistan under the PDPA — much like other Soviet-allied, postcolonial successes such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Libya, and North Korea — was seen as a “Soviet satellite” that needed to be brought back under colonial domination, and whose commodities needed to be put under the exclusive control and possession of the United States. Not only that, but it was considered a strategic point of interest that could be used to enclose upon the Soviet Union.

In order to undermine the then-newly formed and popular PDPA government, the Carter administration and the CIA began the imperialist intervention by providing training, financial support, and weapons to Sunni extremists (the Mujahideen) who started committing acts of terrorism against schools and teachers in rural areas. With the assistance of the Saudi and Pakistani militaries, the CIA gathered together ousted feudal landlords, reactionary tribal chiefs, sectarian Sunni clerics, and cartel drug lords to form a coalition to destabilize Afghanistan. On September 1979, Noor Mohammed Taraki — the first PDPA leader and President of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan — was assassinated during the events of the CIA-backed coup, which was quickly stopped by the Afghan army. However, by late 1979, the PDPA was becoming overwhelmed by the large-scale military intervention by U.S. proxy forces — a combination of foreign mercenaries and Afghan Ancien Régime-sympathizers — and so they decided to make a request to the USSR to deploy a contingent of troops for assistance. The Soviet intervention provided some much-needed relief for the PDPA forces — if only for the next ten years, for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “upped the ante” by pouring about $40 billion into the war and recruiting and arming around 100,000 more foreign mercenaries. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev would call on the Soviet troops to be withdrawn, and the PDPA was eventually defeated with the fall of Kabul in April 1992. Chaos ensued as the Mujahideen fell into infighting with the formation of rival factions competing for territorial space and also wreaking havoc across cities, looting, terrorizing civilians, hosting mass executions in football stadiums, ethnically-cleansing non-Pashtun minorities, and committing mass rapes against Afghan women and girls. Soon afterwards in 1995, one of the warring factions, the Taliban, consolidated power with backing from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. On September 28, 1996 the last PDPA Presidential leader, Mohammad Najibullah, was abducted from his local UN compound (where he had been granted sanctuary), tortured, and brutally murdered by Taliban soldiers; they strung his mutilated body from a light pole for public display.

A renewed opium trade, and the economic roots of Empire-building

U.S. troops guarding an opium poppy field in Afghanistan.

After the fall of Kabul in 1992, but some time before the Taliban came to power, the reactionary tribal chiefs had taken over the Afghan countryside and ordered farmers to begin planting opium poppy, which had been outlawed by the Taraki government. Prior to that, the Pakistani ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) set up hundreds of heroin laboratories at the behest of the CIA so that by 1981, the Pakistani-Afghan border became the largest producer of heroin in the world. Alfred McCoy confirms in his study, “Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade”:

“Once the heroin left these labs in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, the Sicilian Mafia imported the drugs into the U.S., where they soon captured sixty percent of the U.S. heroin market. That is to say, sixty percent of the U.S. heroin supply came indirectly from a CIA operation. During the decade of this operation, the 1980s, the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad made no arrests and participated in no seizures, allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin.”

It is apparent that by putting an end to the cultivation of opium poppy, in addition to using the country’s resources to modernize and uplift its own population, the independent nationalist government of the PDPA was seen as a threat to U.S. interests that needed to be eliminated. A major objective of the U.S.-led Mujahideen — or any kind of U.S. military-led action for that matter — against Afghanistan had always been to restore and secure the opium trade. After all, it was during the 1970s that drug trafficking served as the CIA’s primary source of funding for paramilitary forces against anti-imperialist governments and liberation movements in the Global South, in addition to protecting U.S. assets abroad. Also, the CIA’s international drug trafficking ties go as far back as 1949, which is the year when Washington’s long war on the Korean Peninsula began. The move by the PDPA to eradicate opium-poppy harvesting and put an end to the exploitation brought about by the drug cartels was seen as “going too far” by U.S. imperialists. A significantly large loss in opium production would mean a huge loss in profits for Wall Street and major international banks, which have a vested interest in the drug trade. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that money-laundering made up 2-5% of the world economy’s GDP and that a large percentage of the annual money-laundering, which was worth 590 billion to 1.5 trillion dollars, had direct links to the drug trade. The profits generated from the drug trade are often placed in American-British-controlled offshore banks.

The rationale behind the PDPA’s campaign to eradicate the opium poppy harvest was based not only on practical health reasons, but also on the role played by narcotics in the history of colonialism in Asia. Historically, cartel drug lords enabled imperialist nations, served bourgeois interests, and used cheap exploited slave labour. Oftentimes, the peasants who toiled in these poppy fields would find themselves becoming addicted to heroin in addition to being, quite literally, worked to death. Cartels are understood to be monopolistic alliances in which partners agree on the conditions of sale and terms of payment and divide the markets amongst themselves by fixing the prices and the quantity of goods to be produced. Now, concerning the role of cartels in ‘late-stage capitalism’, Lenin wrote:

“Monopolist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicates and trusts first divided the home market among themselves and obtained more or less complete possession of the industry of their own country. But under capitalism the home market is inevitably bound up with the foreign market. Capitalism long ago created a world market. As the export of capital increased, and as the foreign and colonial connections and “spheres of influence” of the big monopolist associations expanded in all ways, things “naturally” gravitated towards an international agreement among these associations, and towards the formation of international cartels.

This is a new stage of world concentration of capital and production, incomparably higher than the preceding stages.”

International cartels, especially drug cartels, are symptoms of how capital has expanded globally and has adapted to create a global wealth divide based on the territorial division of the world, the scramble for colonies, and “the struggle for spheres of influence.” More specifically, international cartels serve as stewards for the imperialist nations in the plundering of the oppressed or colonized nations. Hence the mass campaigns to help end addictions and to crack down on drug traffickers which were not only implemented in Afghanistan under the PDPA, but in Revolutionary China in 1949 and by other anti-imperialist movements as well. Of course, the opium traffickers and their organized crime associates in Afghanistan saw the campaign against opium poppy cultivation, among other progressive reforms, as an affront; this made them ideal recruits for the Mujahideen.

But why the “breakdown” in the relationship between the U.S. and the Taliban from the early 2000s and onwards? Keep in mind that, again, the members of the Taliban were amongst the various factions that made up the Mujahideen whose partnership with the United States extends as far back as the late 1970s; and it was clear that the U.S. was aware that it was working with Islamic fundamentalists. The human rights abuses committed by the Taliban while in power were well-documented before their relations with the U.S. soured by the year 2000. What made these relations turn sour was the fact that the Taliban had decided to drastically reduce the opium poppy cultivation. This led to the direct U.S. military intervention of 2001 in Afghanistan and the subsequent overthrow of the Taliban; the U.S. used the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as a pretext even if there was no proof that the Taliban had a hand in them or had been in contact with Osama bin Laden at all during that time. The U.S. would soon replace the Taliban with another faction of the Mujahideen that was more compliant with the rules that the imperialists had set out. In other words, the Taliban were ousted not necessarily because they posed a significant challenge to U.S. hegemony as the PDPA had, or because of their treatment of women — nor were they hiding Osama bin Laden; it was because they had become more of liabilities than assets. It is yet another case of the Empire discarding its puppets when they have outlived their usefulness due to incompetence and being unable to “follow the rules properly” — not unlike the U.S. removal of military dictator Manuel Noriega who was staunchly pro-American and who, in collaboration with fellow CIA asset and notorious cartel drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, previously sold drugs for the CIA to help finance the anti-communist campaign in Central America.

George W. Bush visits Hamid Karzai, who participated in the Mujahideen in the past and led the puppet government that replaced the Taliban.

By 2002, and as a result of the 2001 intervention, the lucrative opium poppy production had seen a huge boom once again. In 2014, Afghanistan’s opium poppy production made up 90% of the world’s heroin supply, leading to a decrease in opium prices. And according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the opium production in Afghanistan increased by 43% to 4,800 metric tons in 2016.

Although the United States has always been one of the top producers of oil in the world, another reason for establishing a permanent U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was to gain control over its vast untapped oil reserves, which the U.S. had known about prior to 9/11. Oil is yet another lucrative commodity, and ensuring that Afghanistan had a compliant government that would acquiesce to its demands was important for the U.S. in this aspect as well. Naturally, the nationalist government of the PDPA was also seen as a threat to the profit-making interests of U.S. oil companies, and any nation that was an independent oil producer (or merely a potential independent oil producer, in Afghanistan’s case) was seen as an annoying competitor by the United States. However, Afghanistan would not begin its first commercial oil production until 2013, partly because of the ongoing geopolitical instability, but also because opium production continues to dominate the economy. Plus, it is likely that neither the monarchy nor the PDPA realized that there existed such vast untapped oil reserves since there were very limited volumes of oil (compared to the higher volumes of natural gas) being produced from 1957 to 1989, and which stopped as soon as the Soviet troops left. Later, reassessments were made during the 1990s; hence the U.S. ‘discovery’ of the untapped petroleum potential. But, when intensive negotiations between U.S.-based oil company Unocal and the Taliban went unresolved in 1998 due to a dispute over a pipeline deal that the latter wanted to strike with a competing Argentine company, it would lead to growing tensions between the U.S. and the Taliban. The reason for the dispute was that Unocal wanted to have primary control over the pipeline located between Afghanistan and Pakistan that crossed into the Indian Ocean. From this point on, the U.S. was starting to see the Taliban as a liability in its prerogative of establishing political and economic dominance over Central and West Asia.

In either case, oil and other “strategic” raw materials such as opium are essential for the U.S. to maintain its global monopolistic power. It is here that we see a manifestation of the economic roots of empire-building.

*

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Continued in Part 2.

Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here.

Janelle Velinais a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org andLLCO.org. She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com.

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training.

Russia-gate Is No Watergate or Iran-Contra

Many comparisons have been made between Russia-gate and the earlier scandals of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but the similarities are at best superficial, explains Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Russia-gate, the sprawling investigation into whether Russia meddled in last year’s U.S. election, is often compared to the two big political scandals of the latter half of the Twentieth Century, Watergate and Iran-Contra. Sometimes you even hear that Russia-gate is “bigger than Watergate.”

Yet what is perhaps most remarkable about those two Twentieth Century scandals is how little Official Washington really understands them – and how these earlier scandals significantly contrast, rather than compare, with what is unfolding now.

Although the historical record is still incomplete on Watergate and Iran-Contra, the available evidence indicates that both scandals originated in schemes by Republicans to draw foreign leaders into plots to undermine sitting Democratic presidents and thus pave the way for the elections of Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

As for Russia-gate, even if you accept that the Russian government hacked into Democratic emails and publicized them via WikiLeaks, there is still no evidence that Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Kremlin to do so. By contrast, in the origins of Watergate and Iran-Contra, it appears the Nixon and Reagan campaigns, respectively, were the instigators of schemes to enlist foreign governments in blocking a Vietnam peace deal in 1968 and negotiations to free 52 American hostages in Iran in 1980.

Though Watergate is associated directly with the 1972 campaign – when Nixon’s team of burglars was caught inside the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate building – Nixon’s formation of that team, known as the Plumbers, was driven by his fear that he could be exposed for sabotaging President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 in order to secure the White House that year.

After Nixon’s narrow victory over Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed Nixon that Johnson had a secret file, complete with wiretapped phone calls, detailing the Nixon campaign’s backchannel messages to South Vietnamese officials convincing them to boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. Later, Nixon learned that this incriminating file had disappeared from the White House.

So, in 1971, after the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, which recounted the lies that had been used to justify the Vietnam War through 1967, Nixon fretted that the missing file about his peace-talk gambit in 1968 might surface, too, and would destroy him politically. Thus, he organized the Plumbers to find the file, even contemplating fire-bombing the Brookings Institution to enable a search of its safe where some aides thought the missing file might be found.

In other words, Watergate wasn’t simply a break-in at the Democratic National Committee on June 17, 1972, in pursuit of useful political intelligence and Nixon’s ensuing cover-up; the scandal had its origins in a far worse scandal, the derailing of peace talks that could have ended the Vietnam War years earlier and saved the lives of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers and possibly more than 1 million Vietnamese.

Iran-Contra Parallels

Similarly, the Iran-Contra scandal exploded in 1986 with revelations that President Reagan had authorized secret arms sales to Iran with some of the profits going to fund the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, but the evidence now indicates that the connections between Reagan’s team and Iran’s revolutionary regime traced back to 1980 when emissaries from Reagan’s campaign worked to stymie President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran.

According to multiple witnesses, including former Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs Nicholas Veliotes, the pre-election contacts led to the opening of a weapons pipeline to Iran (via Israel), after Reagan was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981, which was the precise moment when Iran finally released the American hostages after 444 days.

Some key players in the 1980 Reagan-Iran contacts reappeared four years later at the start of direct (again secret) U.S. arms shipments to Iran in 1985, which also involved Israeli middlemen. These key players included Iranian CIA operative Cyrus Hashemi, former CIA clandestine services chief Theodore Shackley, Reagan’s campaign chief and then-CIA Director William Casey, and former CIA Director and then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

In other words, the Iran-Contra weapons shipments of 1985-86 appear to have been an outgrowth of the earlier shipments dating back to 1980 and continuing under Israeli auspices until the supply line was taken over more directly by the Reagan administration in 1985-86.

Thus, both the Watergate scandal in 1972 and the Iran-Contra Affair in 1986 could be viewed as “sequels” to the earlier machinations driven by Republican hunger to seize the enormous powers of the U.S. presidency. However, for decades, Official Washington has been hostile to these underlying explanations of how Watergate and Iran-Contra began.

For instance, The New York Times, the so-called “newspaper of record,” treated the accumulation of evidence regarding Nixon’s 1968 peace-talk gambit as nothing more than a “rumor” until earlier this year when a scholar, John A. Farrell, uncovered cryptic notes taken by Nixon’s aide H.R. Haldeman, which added another piece to the mosaic and left the Times little choice but to pronounce the historical reality finally real.

Grasping the Watergate Narrative

Still, the Times and other major news outlets have failed to factor this belated admission into the larger Watergate narrative. If you understand that Nixon did sabotage President Johnson’s Vietnam War peace talks and that Nixon was aware that Johnson’s file on what LBJ called Nixon’s “treason” had disappeared from the White House, the early “Watergate tapes” from 1971 suddenly make sense.

Nixon ordered White House chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to locate the missing file but their search came up empty. Yet, some Nixon aides thought the file might be hidden at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank in Washington. So, in his desperate pursuit of the file, Nixon called for a break-in at Brookings, possibly even fire-bombing the building as a cover for his team of burglars to slip in amid the confusion and rifle the safe.

The old explanation that Nixon simply wanted to find some file related to Johnson’s 1968 pre-election Vietnam bombing halt never made sense given the extreme steps that Nixon was prepared to take.

The relevant portions of Nixon’s White House tapes include an entry on June 17, 1971, coincidentally one year to the day before the Watergate burglars were caught. Nixon summoned Haldeman and Kissinger to the Oval Office and pleaded with them again to locate the file.

“Do we have it?” Nixon asked Haldeman. “I’ve asked for it. You said you didn’t have it.”

Haldeman: “We can’t find it.”

Kissinger: “We have nothing here, Mr. President.”

Nixon: “Well, damn-it, I asked for that because I need it.”

Kissinger: “But Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together.”

Haldeman: “We have a basic history in constructing our own, but there is a file on it.”

Nixon: “Where?”

Haldeman: “[Presidential aide Tom Charles] Huston swears to God that there’s a file on it and it’s at Brookings.”

Nixon: “Bob? Bob? Now do you remember Huston’s plan [for White House-sponsored break-ins as part of domestic counter-intelligence operations]? Implement it.”

Kissinger: “Now Brookings has no right to have classified documents.”

Nixon: “I want it implemented. Goddamn-it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”

Haldeman: “They may very well have cleaned them by now, but this thing, you need to “

Kissinger: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Brookings had the files.”

Haldeman: “My point is Johnson knows that those files are around. He doesn’t know for sure that we don’t have them around.”

But Johnson did know that the file was no longer at the White House because he had ordered his national security adviser, Walt Rostow, to remove it in the final days of Johnson’s presidency.

Forming the Burglars

On June 30, 1971, Nixon again berated Haldeman about the need to break into Brookings and “take it [the file] out.” Nixon suggested using former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt to conduct the Brookings break-in.

“You talk to Hunt,” Nixon told Haldeman. “I want the break-in. Hell, they do that. You’re to break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them in. Just go in and take it. Go in around 8:00 or 9:00 o’clock.”

Haldeman: “Make an inspection of the safe.”

Nixon: “That’s right. You go in to inspect the safe. I mean, clean it up.”

For reasons that remain unclear, it appears that the Brookings break-in never took place (nor did the fire-bombing), but Nixon’s desperation to locate Johnson’s peace-talk file was an important link in the chain of events that led to the creation of Nixon’s burglary unit under Hunt’s supervision. Hunt later oversaw the two Watergate break-ins in May and June of 1972.

While it’s possible that Nixon was still searching for the file about his Vietnam-peace sabotage when the ill-fated Watergate break-ins occurred a year later, it’s generally believed that the burglary was more broadly focused, seeking any information that might have an impact on Nixon’s re-election, either defensively or offensively.

However, if you think back on 1971 when the Vietnam War was tearing the country apart and massive antiwar demonstrations were descending on Washington, Nixon’s desperation to locate the missing file suddenly doesn’t seem quite so crazy. There would have been hell to pay if the public learned that Nixon had kept the war going to gain a political advantage in 1968.

Through 1972 – and the early days of the Watergate scandal – former President Johnson had stayed silent about Nixon’s sabotage of the Paris peace talks. But the ex-President became livid when – after Nixon’s reelection in 1972 – Nixon’s men sought to pressure Johnson into helping them shut down the Watergate investigation, in part, by noting that Johnson, too, had deployed wiretaps against Nixon’s 1968 campaign to obtain evidence about the peace-talk sabotage.

While it’s not clear whether Johnson would have finally spoken out, that threat to Nixon ended two days after Nixon’s second inaugural when on Jan. 22, 1973, Johnson died of a heart attack. However, unbeknownst to Nixon, Johnson had left the missing file, called “The X-Envelope,” in the care of Rostow, who – after Johnson’s death – gave the file to the LBJ presidential library in Austin, Texas, with instructions that it be kept under wraps for at least 50 years. (Rostow’s instructions were overturned in the 1990s, and I found the now largely declassified file at the library in 2012.)

So, with the “The X-Envelope” squirreled away for more than two decades at the LBJ library and with the big newspapers treating the early sketchy reports of Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage as only “rumors,” Watergate remained a scandal limited to the 1972 campaign.

Still, Nixon’s cover-up of his campaign’s role in the Watergate break-in produced enough clear-cut evidence of obstruction of justice and other offenses that Nixon was forced to resign on Aug. 9, 1974.

A Failed Investigation

The 1979-81 hostage confrontation with Iran was not nearly as devastating a crisis as the Vietnam War but America’s humiliation during the 444-day-long ordeal became a focus of the 1980 election, too, with the first anniversary of Iran’s seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran coincidentally falling on Election Day 1980.

President Carter’s failure to gain freedom for the 52 embassy personnel turned what had been a close race into a landslide for Ronald Reagan, with Republicans also gaining control of the U.S. Senate and ousting some of the most influential Democratic senators.

In 1984, Reagan won reelection in another landslide, but two years later ran afoul of the Iran-Contra scandal. Reagan’s secret arms sales to Iran and diversion of profits to the Contras “broke” in November 1986 but focused only on Reagan’s 1985-1986 arms sales and the diversion. Still, the scandal’s crimes included violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the so-called Boland Act’s prohibitions on arming the Contras as well as perjury and obstruction of justice. So there was the prospect of Reagan’s impeachment.

But – from the start of Iran-Contra – there was a strong pushback from Republicans who didn’t want to see another GOP president driven from office. There was also resistance to the scandal from many mainstream media executives who personally liked Reagan and feared a public backlash if the press played an aggressive role similar to Watergate.

And, moderate Democrats, such as Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana who co-chaired the congressional investigation, sought to tamp down the Iran-Contra fires and set up firebreaks to prevent the investigation from spreading to related crimes such as the Reagan administration’s protection of Contra cocaine traffickers.

“Ask about the cocaine,” pleaded one protester who was dragged from the Iran-Contra hearing room, as the congressional investigators averted their eyes from such unseemly matters, focusing instead on stilted lectures about the Congress’s constitutional prerogatives.

It was not until 1990-91 that it became clear that secret U.S.-approved arms shipments to Iran did not start in 1985 as the Iran-Contra narrative claimed but traced back to 1981 with Reagan’s approval of arms sales to Iran through Israel.

Reagan’s politically risky move of secretly arming Iran immediately after his inauguration and the hostage release was nearly exposed when one of the Israeli flights strayed into Soviet airspace on July 18, 1981, and crashed or was shot down.

In a PBS interview nearly a decade later, Nicholas Veliotes, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, said he looked into the incident by talking to top administration officials.

“It was clear to me after my conversations with people on high that indeed we had agreed that the Israelis could transship to Iran some American-origin military equipment,” Veliotes said.

In checking out the Israeli flight, Veliotes came to believe that the Reagan camp’s dealings with Iran dated back to before the 1980 election. “It seems to have started in earnest in the period probably prior to the election of 1980, as the Israelis had identified who would become the new players in the national security area in the Reagan administration,” Veliotes said. “And I understand some contacts were made at that time.”

However, in 1981, Veliotes said, the State Department issued misleading press guidance to cover the administration’s tracks and the Washington media failed to follow up. Thus, the U.S.-Israeli arms pipeline to Iran stayed secret from the American people until November 1986 when — despite Reagan’s long-running insistence that he would never trade arms with a terrorist state like Iran — the operation was exposed.

When I re-interviewed Veliotes in 2012, he said he couldn’t recall who the “people on high” were who had described the informal clearance of the Israeli shipments of U.S.-manufactured weapons, but he indicated that “the new players” were the young neoconservatives who were working on the Reagan campaign, many of whom later joined the administration as senior political appointees.

Documents that I discovered at the Reagan presidential library revealed that Reagan’s neocons at the State Department, particularly Robert McFarlane and Paul Wolfowitz, initiated a policy review in 1981 to allow Israel to undertake secret military shipments to Iran.

McFarlane and Wolfowitz also maneuvered to put McFarlane in charge of U.S. relations toward Iran and to establish a clandestine U.S. back-channel to the Israeli government outside the knowledge of even senior U.S. government officials.

Another Failed Investigation

In 1991, faced with the accumulating evidence of a prequel to the Iran-Contra scandal, Congress grudgingly agreed to take a look at these so-called “October Surprise” allegations. But Republicans, then led by President George H.W. Bush and his White House team, mounted an aggressive cover-up to “spike” the story.

And, with the congressional inquiry largely in the hands again of Rep. Hamilton, the Democrats timidly folded their tent despite a growing body of evidence that the Reagan team was indeed guilty.

Much of that evidence flowed into the House Task Force in December 1992 when President George H.W. Bush had already been defeated for reelection and the Democrats were looking forward to their renewed control of Washington. So, instead of giving a careful review to the new evidence, the House Task Force ignored, disparaged or buried it.

The late-arriving material included sworn testimony on Dec. 18, 1992, from David Andelman, the biographer of French intelligence chief Alexandre deMarenches, describing how deMarenches had confided that he had helped arrange the Republican-Iranian contacts. Andelman, an ex-New York Times and CBS News correspondent, said that while he was working on deMarenches’s autobiography, the arch-conservative spymaster admitted arranging meetings between Republicans and Iranians about the hostage issue in the summer and fall of 1980, with one meeting held in Paris in October.

Andelman said deMarenches ordered that the secret meetings be kept out of his memoirs because the story could otherwise damage the reputations of his friends, William Casey and George H.W. Bush. Andelman’s testimony corroborated longstanding claims from a variety of international intelligence operatives about a Paris meeting involving Casey and Bush. But the Task Force report brushed this testimony aside, paradoxically terming it “credible” but then claiming it was “insufficiently probative.”

The Task Force’s report argued that Andelman could not “rule out the possibility that deMarenches had told him he was aware of and involved in the Casey meetings because he, deMarenches, could not risk telling his biographer he had no knowledge of these allegations.”

In the last weeks of the investigation, the House investigators also received a letter from former Iranian President Bani-Sadr detailing his behind-the-scenes struggle with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his son Ahmad over their secret dealings with the Reagan campaign. But the House investigators dismissed Bani-Sadr’s first-hand account as hearsay and thus also lacking “probative value.”

I later unearthed some of the evidence in unpublished Task Force files. However, in the meantime, Official Washington had dismissed the “October Surprise” and other Iran-Contra-connected scandals, like Contra drug trafficking, as conspiracy theories.

The Russian Report

Ironically, another piece of late-arriving evidence was a January 1993 report from a national security committee of the Russian parliament about the Kremlin’s intelligence data confirming that key Republicans, including George H.W. Bush and William Casey, had met with Iranian officials in Europe regarding the hostages during the 1980 campaign.

Hamilton had requested the Russian assistance before the U.S. election in 1992, but the report was not sent until there were only two weeks left in George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

Lawrence Barcella, who served as the Task Force chief counsel, later told me that so much incriminating evidence arrived late that he asked Hamilton to extend the inquiry for three months but that Hamilton said no (although Hamilton told me that he had no recollection of denying Barcella’s request).

The other fatal flaw of the House investigation was that it left much of the actual investigating up to President George H.W. Bush’s White House counsel’s office and the State Department, although Bush was one of the chief suspects and, in 1991-92, was running for re-election, a campaign that would have been derailed if the 1980 October Surprise allegations were confirmed.

The naivete of this decision was underscored years later when I located a memo at Bush’s presidential library stating that the State Department had informed the White House counsel’s office that Casey had traveled to Madrid in 1980, corroborating a key October Surprise allegation.

The confirmation of Casey’s trip was passed along by State Department legal adviser Edwin D. Williamson to Associate White House Counsel Chester Paul Beach Jr. in early November 1991, just as the October Surprise inquiry was taking shape, according to Beach’s “memorandum for record” dated Nov. 4, 1991.

Williamson said that among the State Department “material potentially relevant to the October Surprise allegations [was] a cable from the Madrid embassy indicating that Bill Casey was in town, for purposes unknown,” Beach noted.

Two days later, on Nov. 6, 1991, Beach’s boss, White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, arranged an inter-agency strategy session and explained the need to contain the congressional investigation into the October Surprise case. The explicit goal was to ensure the scandal would not hurt President Bush’s reelection hopes in 1992.

In 2013, when I interviewed Hamilton about the Beach memo, he lamented that the Madrid information had not been shared with his investigation, saying “you have to rely on people” in authority to comply with information requests.

“We found no evidence to confirm Casey’s trip to Madrid,” Hamilton told me. “We couldn’t show that. The [George H.W. Bush] White House did not notify us that he did make the trip. Should they have passed that on to us? They should have because they knew we were interested in that.”

Asked if knowledge that Casey had traveled to Madrid might have changed the Task Force’s dismissive October Surprise conclusion, Hamilton said yes, because the question of the Madrid trip was key to the task force’s investigation.

Not Moving the Needle

However, the Madrid trip revelation and other post-investigation disclosures failed to move the needle on Official Washington’s disdain for the October Surprise story.

The later disclosures included a 1993 interview in Tel Aviv in which former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said he had read the 1991 book, October Surprise, by Carter’s former National Security Council aide Gary Sick, which made the case for believing that the Republicans had intervened in the 1980 hostage negotiations to disrupt Carter’s reelection.

With the topic raised, one interviewer asked, “What do you think? Was there an October Surprise?”

“Of course, it was,” Shamir responded without hesitation. “It was.”

And, there were other corroborating statements as well. In 1996, for instance, while former President Carter was meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Arafat in Gaza City, Arafat tried to confess his role in the Republican maneuvering to block Carter’s Iran-hostage negotiations.

“There is something I want to tell you,” Arafat said, addressing Carter in the presence of historian Douglas Brinkley. “You should know that in 1980 the Republicans approached me with an arms deal [for the PLO] if I could arrange to keep the hostages in Iran until after the [U.S. presidential] election,” Arafat said, according to Brinkley’s article in the fall 1996 issue of Diplomatic Quarterly.

In 2013, after the movie “Argo” appeared regarding an early facet of the Iran-hostage crisis, former Iranian President Bani-Sadr elaborated on his account of Republican overtures to Iran in 1980 and how that secret initiative prevented release of the hostages.

In a Christian Science Monitor commentary, Bani-Sadr wrote, “Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation which prevented the attempts by myself and then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 U.S. presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.”

Then, Bani-Sadr added a new detail, that “two of my advisors, Hussein Navab Safavi and Sadr-al-Hefazi, were executed by Khomeini’s regime because they had become aware of this secret relationship between Khomeini, his son Ahmad, … and the Reagan administration.” [For more details on the October Surprise case, see Robert Parry’s Trick or Treason and America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Compare and Contrast

So how do Watergate and Iran-Contra compare and contrast with Russia-gate? One key difference is that in Watergate in 1972-73 and Iran-Contra in 1985-86, you had clear-cut crimes (even if you don’t want to believe the two “prequels” from 1968 and 1980, respectively).

In Watergate, five burglars were caught inside the DNC offices on June 17, 1972, as they sought to plant more bugs on Democratic phones. (An earlier break-in in May had installed two bugs, but one didn’t work.) Nixon then proceeded to mount a cover-up of his 1972 campaign’s role in funding the break-in and other abuses of power.

In Iran-Contra, Reagan secretly authorized weapons sales to Iran, which was then designated a terrorist state, without informing Congress, a violation of the Arms Export Control Act. He also kept Congress in the dark about his belated signing of a related intelligence “finding.” And the creation of slush funds to finance the Nicaraguan Contras represented an evasion of the U.S. Constitution.

There was also the attendant Iran-Contra cover-up mounted both by the Reagan White House and later the George H.W. Bush White House, which culminated in Bush’s Christmas Eve 1992 pardons of six Iran-Contra defendants as special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was zeroing in on possible indictment of Bush for withholding evidence.

By contrast, Russia-gate has been a “scandal” in search of a specific crime. President Barack Obama’s intelligence chieftains have alleged – without presenting any clear evidence – that the Russian government hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and released those emails via WikiLeaks and other Internet sites. (The Russians and WikiLeaks have both denied the accusations.)

The DNC emails revealed that senior Democrats did not maintain their required independence regarding the primaries by seeking to hurt Sen. Bernie Sanders and help Clinton. The Podesta emails pulled back the curtain on Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street banks and on pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

Hacking into personal computers is a crime, but the U.S. government has yet to bring any formal charges against specific individuals supposedly responsible for the hacking of the Democratic emails. There also has been no evidence that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians in the hacking.

Lacking any precise evidence of this cyber-crime or of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, Obama’s Justice Department holdovers and now special prosecutor Robert Mueller have sought to build “process crimes,” around false statements to investigators and possible obstruction of justice.

Railroading Flynn

In the case of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, acting Attorney General Sally Yates used the archaic Logan Act of 1799 to create a predicate for the FBI to interrogate Flynn about a Dec. 29, 2016 conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, i.e., after Trump’s election but before the Inauguration.

The Logan Act, which has never resulted in a prosecution in 218 years, was enacted during the period of the Alien and Sedition Acts to bar private citizens from negotiating on their own with foreign governments. It was never intended to apply to a national security adviser of an elected President, albeit before he was sworn in.

But it became the predicate for the FBI interrogation — and the FBI agents were armed with a transcript of the intercepted Kislyak-Flynn phone call so they could catch Flynn on any gaps in his recollection, which might have been made even hazier because he was on vacation in the Dominican Republic when Kislyak called.

Yates also concocted a bizarre argument that the discrepancies between Flynn’s account of the call and the transcript left him open to Russian blackmail although how that would work – since the Russians surely assumed that Kislyak’s calls would be monitored by U.S. intelligence and thus offered them no leverage with Flynn – was never explained.

Still, Flynn’s failure to recount the phone call precisely and the controversy stirred up around it became the basis for an obstruction of justice investigation of Flynn and led to President Trump’s firing Flynn on Feb. 13.

Trump may have thought that tossing Flynn overboard to the circling sharks would calm down the sharks but the blood in the water only excited them more. According to then-FBI Director James Comey, Trump talked to him one-on-one the next day, Feb. 14, and said, “‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Trump’s “hope” and the fact that he later fired Comey have reportedly led special prosecutor Mueller to look at a possible obstruction of justice case against Trump. In other words, Trump could be accused of obstructing what appears to have been a trumped-up case against Flynn.

Of course, there remains the possibility that evidence might surface of Trump or his campaign colluding with the Russians, but such evidence has so far not been presented. Or Mueller’s investigation might turn over some rock and reveal some unrelated crime, possibly financial wrongdoing by Trump or an associate.

(Something similar happened in the Republican investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack, a largely fruitless inquiry except that it revealed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent and received official emails over a private server, which Comey decried during last year’s campaign as “extremely careless” but not criminal.)

Curb the Enthusiasm

Another contrast between the earlier scandals (Watergate and Iran-Contra) and Russia-gate is the degree of enthusiasm and excitement that the U.S. mainstream media and congressional Democrats have shown today as opposed to 1972 and 1986.

Though The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein aggressively pursued the Watergate scandal, there was much less interest elsewhere in major news outlets until Nixon’s criminality became obvious in 1973. Many national Democrats, including DNC Chairman Bob Strauss, were extremely hesitant to pursue the scandal if not outright against it.

Similarly, although Brian Barger and I at The Associated Press were pursuing aspects of Iran-Contra since early 1985, the big newspapers and networks consistently gave the Reagan administration the benefit of the doubt – at least before the scandal finally burst into view in fall 1986 (when a Contra-supply plane crashed inside Nicaragua and a Lebanese newspaper revealed U.S. arms shipments to Iran).

For several months, there was a flurry of attention to the complex Iran-Contra scandal, but the big media still ignored evidence of a White House cover-up and soon lost interest in the difficult work of unraveling the convoluted networks for arms smuggling, money laundering and cocaine trafficking.

Congressional Democrats also shied away from a constitutional confrontation with the popular Reagan and his well-connected Vice President George H.W. Bush.

After moving from AP to Newsweek in early 1987, I learned that the senior executives at Newsweek, then part of The Washington Post Company, didn’t want “another Watergate”; they felt another such scandal was not “good for the country” and wanted Iran-Contra to go away as soon as possible. I was even told not to read the congressional Iran-Contra report when it was published in October 1987 (although I ignored that order and kept trying to keep my own investigation going in defiance of the wishes of the Newsweek brass until those repeated clashes led to my departure in June 1990).

So, perhaps the biggest similarity between Russia-gate and Watergate is that Richard Nixon and Donald Trump were both highly unpopular with the Washington establishment and thus had few influential defenders, while an important contrast with Iran-Contra was that Reagan and Bush were very well liked, especially among news executives such as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham who, by all accounts, did not care for the uncouth Nixon. Today, the senior executives of The New York Times, The Washington Post and other major news outlets have made no secret of their disdain for the buffoonish Trump and their hostility toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In other words, what is driving Russia-gate – for both the mainstream news media and the Democrats – appears to be a political agenda, i.e., the desire to remove Trump from office while also ratcheting up a New Cold War with Russia, a priority for Washington’s neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks.

If this political drama were playing out in some other country, we would be talking about a “soft coup” in which the “oligarchy” or some other “deep state” force was using semi-constitutional means to engineer a disfavored leader’s removal.

Of course, since the ongoing campaign to remove Trump is happening in the United States, it must be presented as a principled pursuit of truth and a righteous application of the rule of law. But the comparisons to Watergate and Iran-Contra are a stretch.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

This article was first published by Consortium News

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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فتح/ حماس… الجمهوريون/ الديمقراطيون… وكذبة الديمقراطية

MAY 19, 2017

عادل سمارة

فتح/ حماس… الجمهوريون/ الديمقراطيون… وكذبة الديمقراطية:

حين قرّرت معظم الفصائل الفلسطينية التهام «ديمقراطية» أوسلو وبسماح أميركا بذلك حيث أرسلت رئيسها السابق جيمي كارتر ليشرف/ يبارك انتخابات أوسلو-ستان… عجيب والله عجيب وهو الذي وضع عقيدة كارتر لاحتلال الجزيرة العربية علانية، وحصل. وحصلت الانتخابات وتمّ التفاخر بشفافيتها، وهي تحت الاحتلال! لكن نفس أميركا وتوابعها العرب أوقفوا الحقن المالية/ الريع غضباً لفوز حماس. أيّ خرقت أميركا غشاء البكارة الديمقراطية التي صنعتها!!

واليوم في أميركا نفسها لا يطيق الحزب الديمقراطي فقدان السلطة فيلجأ إلى أخطر تهمة باعتبار الرئيس «مخبراً»! ويعملون على عزله. والطبقة الحاكمة/ المالكة الأميركية أقدر الناس على صنع الأسباب من لا أسباب.

انقسم الفلسطينيون ومضى عقد من الزمن على تبادل التهم بين الطرفين. وحتى حين وضعت حماس «وليدتها/ وثيقتها… أوسلو القداسة» ومع ذلك لم يتمّ التقدّم بوصة واحدة باتجاه مغادرة الانقسام.

لن أذهب بعيداً للقول بأنّ الأميركيين كسكان أكبر مستوطنة رأسمالية عنصرية بيضاء سوف ينقسمون قريباً، هذا رغم انّ عدة ولايات تطمح بالانفصال، بل ترى أنها أُرغمت على الانضمام لواشنطن مثل كاليفورنيا وتكساس وأريزونا ومعظم الأجزاء المكسيكية الأخرى المغتصبة.

لكن المهم ان نرى بأنّ أكذوبة الديمقراطية تكشف عورتها بأصابعها هي. لعلّ هذا يكشف للبسطاء العرب بأنّ العرب الذين يتلطون بالديمقراطية ويخونون بلدهم كما في سورية بزعم غياب الديمقراطية أنّ هذه «الديمقراطية» كذبة كبيرة كعاهرة تاريخية.

الأساس هي الحرية. والحرية لا تأتي من أية سلطة بل ينتزعها الناس. ولا ينتزعونها دون وعي وقوة سياسية طبقية حقيقية تناضل من أجل ذلك وحين يتمّ تحصيل الحرية تصبح الديمقراطية تحصيل حاصل وليست مساحيق ولا مكياجاً على وجه عاهرة تخلى عنها جمالها. مثلاً، الأساس جمال العين وليس الكحلة أو تزجيج الحواجب.

الحرية في العمل والإنتاج هي الأساس، والتطوّر الصناعي هو الذي يجبر الحكومات الرأسمالية على توفير ديمقراطية سياسية كي لا يتمّ الإضراب الذي يقطع خط الإنتاج ايّ يوقف الربح والكسب.

وهنا يبرز السؤال المحرج لي أنا قبلكم أيها القراء الأعزاء: لأنّ الخليج يعيش على الريع النفطي، والإنتاج غير النفطي لا يكاد يكون شيئاً يُذكر سوى الجانب البيولوجي أيّ التكاثر السكاني، وحتى هذا لم يصل عدده إلى عدد العمال المستجلبين من الخارج، وطبعاً يخشون تشغيل شباب اليمن!! ولأنّ الحاكم يأخذ حصة من ريع النفط تتركها له الشركات الغربية الكبرى التي تلتهم البلاد، فهو ايّ الحاكم المحكوم يُنفق بعض الريع على من لا يشتغلون شغلاً إنتاجياً، لذا يقول: شو بدكم في الديمقراطية!

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‘Open Bethlehem’–Podcast Discussion on Palestinian Film

Recently the good folks at We Hold These Truths uploaded a podcast featuring a discussion on the film, “Open Bethlehem.” That’s the trailer of the film you see above. The description of the podcast is below:

Victories for the struggle for peace and justice for Palestinians come slowly, but are coming more frequently. We discuss the inspiring documentary Open, Bethlehem by Palestinian filmmaker, Leila Sansour. and her Bethlehem passport project designed to put wings to her film. We also talk about a recent, major victory in Boulder, Colorado where a resolution to make the Palestinian city of Nablus a sister city to Boulder was passed by the city council over strong opposition from vocal, local Zionists.

You can go here to access the full podcast. And you can also go here to visit the “Open Bethlehem” website and here to apply for your own Bethlehem passport. Should you be issued a passport, you will automatically become eligible to become an official ambassador of the holy city where Jesus was born. Here is a picture of former President Jimmy Carter being issued his own passport:

 photo jcbethpssport_zps0wx4ipjw.jpg

The passport reads as follows:

“In that the bearer of this passport is a citizen of Bethlehem; that they recognize this ancient city provides a light to the world, and to all people who uphold the values of a just and open society; that they will remain a true friend to Bethlehem through its imprisonment, and that they will strive to keep the ideals of Bethlehem alive as long as the wall stands; we ask you to respect the bearer of the passport and to let them pass freely.”

Trump: Trumpeting For a War on Iran?

Global Research, February 06, 2017
donald-trump-iran

The Trump Administration’s rhetoric and actions have alarmed the world.  The protests in response to his visa ban have overshadowed and distracted from a darker threat: war with Iran.   Is the fear of the threat greater than the threat itself?  The answer is not clear.

Certainly Americans and non-Americans who took comfort in the fact that we would have a more peaceful world believing that ‘Trump would not start a nuclear war with Russia must now have reason to pause.  The sad and stark reality is that US foreign policy is continuous.    An important part of this continuity is a war that has been waged against Iran for the past 38 years⎯unabated.

The character of this war has changed over time.  From a failed coup which attempted to destroy  the Islamic Republic in its early days (the Nojeh Coup), to aiding Saddam Hossein with intelligence and weapons of mass destruction to kill Iranians during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war, helping and promoting the terrorist MEK group, the training and recruiting of the Jundallah terrorist group to launch attacks in Iran, putting Special Forces on the ground in Iran, the imposition of sanctioned terrorism, the lethal Stuxnet cyberattack,  and the list goes on and on, as does the continuity of it.

While President Jimmy Carter initiated the Rapid Deployment Force and put boots on the Ground in the Persian Gulf, virtually every U.S. president since has threatened Iran with military action.  It is hard to remember when the option was not on the table.  However, thus far, every U.S. administration has wisely avoided a head on military confrontation with Iran.

To his credit, although George W. Bush was egged on to engage militarily with Iran, , the 2002 Millennium Challenge, exercises which simulated war, demonstrated America’s inability to win a war with Iran.   The challenge was too daunting.  It is not just Iran‘s formidable defense forces that have to be reckoned with; but the fact that one of Iran’s strengths and deterrents has been its ability to retaliate to any attack by closing down the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow passageway off the coast of Iran.  Given that 17 million barrels of oil a day, or 35% of the world’s seaborne oil exports go through the Strait of Hormuz, incidents in the Strait would be fatal for the world economy.

Faced with this reality, over the years, the United States has taken a multi-prong approach to prepare for an eventual/potential military confrontation with Iran.  These plans have included promoting the false narrative of an imaginary threat from a non-existent nuclear weapon and the falsehood of Iran being engaged in terrorism (when in fact Iran has been subjected to terrorism for decades as illustrated above).   These ‘alternate facts’ have enabled the United States to rally friend and foe against Iran, and to buy itself time to seek alternative routes to the Strait of Hormuz.

Plan B: West Africa and Yemen

In early 2000s, the renowned British think tank Chatham House issued one of the first publications that determined African oil would be a good alternate to Persian Gulf oil in case of oil disruption. This followed an earlier strategy paper for the U.S. to move toward African oil⎯The African White Paper⎯that was on the desk May 31, 2000 of then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a former CEO of energy giant Halliburton. In 2002, the Israeli-based think tank, IASPS, suggested America push toward African oil.   In an interesting coincidence, in the same year, the Nigerian terror group, Boko Haram, was “founded”.

In 2007, the United States African Command (AFRICOM) helped consolidate this push into the region.  The 2011, a publication titled: “Globalizing West African Oil: US ‘energy security’ and the global economy” outlined ‘US positioning itself to use military force to ensure African oil continued to flow to the United States’.   This was but one strategy to supply oil in addition to or as an alternate to the passage of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

Nigeria and Yemen took on new importance.

In 2012, several alternate routes to Strait of Hormuz were identified which at the time of the report were considered to be limited in capacity and more expensive.   However, collectively, the West African oil and control of Bab Al-Mandeb would diminish the strategic importance of the Strait of Hormuz in case of war.

In his article for the Strategic Culture Foundation, “The Geopolitics Behind the War in Yemen: The Start of a New Front against Iran” geo-political researcher Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya correctly states: “[T] he US wants to make sure that it could control the Bab Al-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands (Yemen). Bab Al-Mandeb it is an important strategic chokepoint for international maritime trade and energy shipments that connect the Persian Gulf via the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea. It is just as important as the Suez Canal for the maritime shipping lanes and trade between Africa, Asia, and Europe.”

War on Iran has never been a first option. The neoconservative think tank, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), argued in its 2004 policy paper “The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action” that the ideal situation was (and continues to be) to have a compliant regime in Tehran.  Instead of direct conflict, the policy paper [a must read] called for the assassination of scientists, introducing a malware, covertly provide Iran plans with a design flaw, sabotage, introduce viruses, etc.  These suggestions were fully and faithfully executed against Iran.

With the policy enacted, much of the world sighed with relief when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA , or the “Iran Nuclear Deal” which restricts Iran’s domestic nuclear power in exchange for the lifting of sanctions on Iran) was signed in the naïve belief that a war with Iran had been alleviated.   Obama’s genius was in his execution of U.S. policies which disarmed and disbanded the antiwar movements.  But the JCPOA was not about improved relations with Iran, it was about undermining it.  As recently as April 2015, as the signing of the JCPOA was drawing near, during a speech at the Army War College Strategy Conference, then Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work elaborated on how the Pentagon plans to counter the three types of wars supposedly being waged by Iran, Russia, and China.

As previously planned, the purpose of the JCPOA was to pave the way for a compliant regime in Tehran faithful to Washington, failing that, Washington would be better prepared for war for  under the JCPOA, Iran would open itself up to inspections.  In other words, the plan would act as a Trojan horse to provide America with targets and soft spots.  Apparently the plan was not moving forward fast enough to please Obama, or Trump.  In direct violation of international law and concepts of state sovereignty, the Obama administration slammed sanctions on Iran for testing missiles.   Iran’s missile program was and is totally separate from the JCPOA and Iran is within its sovereign rights and within the framework of international law to build conventional missiles.

Trump followed suit. Trump ran on a campaign of changing Washington and his speeches were full of contempt for Obama; ironically, like Obama, candidate Trump continued the tactic of disarming many by calling himself a deal maker, a businessman who would create jobs, and for his rhetoric of non-interference.    But few intellectuals paid attention to his fighting words, and fewer still heeded the advisors he surrounded himself with or they would have noted that Trump considers Islam as the number one enemy, followed by Iran, China, and Russia.

The ideology of those he has picked to serve in his administration reflect the contrarian character of Trump and indicate their support of this continuity in US foreign policy.  Former intelligence chief and Trump’s current National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, stated that the Obama administration willfully allowed the rise of ISIS, yet the newly appointed Pentagon Chief “Mad Dog Mattis” has stated: “I consider ISIS nothing more than an excuse for Iran to continue its mischief.”  So the NSC (National Security Council) believes that Obama helped ISIS rise and the Pentagon believes that ISIS helps Iran continue its ‘mischief’.  Is it any wonder that Trump is both confused and confusing?

And is it any wonder that when on January 28th Trump signed an Executive Order calling for a plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days the US, UK, France and Australia ran war games drill in the Persian Gulf that simulated a confrontation with Iran⎯ the country that has, itself, been fighting ISIS.   When Iran exercised its right, by international law, to test a missile, the United States lied and accused Iran of breaking the JCPOA. Threats and new sanctions ensued.

Trump, the self-acclaimed dealmaker who took office on the promise of making new jobs, slammed more sanctions on Iran. Sanctions take jobs away from Americans by prohibiting business with Iran, and they also compel Iranians to become fully self-sufficient, breaking the chains of neo-colonialism. What a deal!

Even though Trump has lashed out at friend and foe, Team Trump has realized that when it comes to attacking a formidable enemy, it cannot do it alone.   Although both in his book, Time to Get Tough, and on his campaign trails he has lashed out at Saudi Arabia, in an about face, he has not included Saudis and other Arab state sponsors of terror on his travel ban list.   It would appear that someone whispered in Mr. Trump’s ear that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar are fighting America’s dirty war in Yemen (and in Syria) and killing Yemenis.  In fact, the infamous Erik Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater who is said to be advising Trump from the shadows, received a $120 million contract from the Obama Administration, and for the past several years has been working with Arab countries, UAE in particular, in the “security” and “training” of militias in the Gulf of Aden, Yemen.

So will there be a not so distant military confrontation with Iran?

Not if sanity prevails.  And with Trump and his generals, that is a big IF While for many years the foundation has been laid and preparations made for a potential military confrontation with Iran, it has always been a last resort; not because the American political elite did not want war, but because they cannot win THIS war. For 8 years, Iran fought not just Iraq, but virtually the whole world.   America and its allies funded Saddam’s war against Iran, gave it intelligence and weaponry, including weapons of mass destruction.  In a period when Iran was reeling from a revolution, its army was in disarray, its population virtually one third of the current population, and its supply of US provided weapons halted Yet Iran prevailed. Various American administrations have come to the realization that while it may take a village to fight Iran, attacking Iran would destroy the global village.

It is time for us to remind Trump that we don’t want to lose our village.

This article was first submitted to the print edition of Worldwide Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) newsletter.  

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on US foreign policy.

A Foreign Nation Did Interfere in a US Election: in 1980

A Foreign Nation Did Interfere in a US Election: in 1980

WAYNE MADSEN | 17.01.2017 | WORLD

A Foreign Nation Did Interfere in a US Election: in 1980

It was October and the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate was faltering in the polls after the Democratic National Convention. The Republican Party’s presidential candidate began negotiating with a foreign government to cook up a scheme to embarrass the Democratic candidate. The scheme was successful and the Democratic candidate went on to lose the election to a Republican candidate who was feared by many for his unorthodox stance on several domestic and foreign issues.

If one thinks the above description is about the recent 2016 election, he or she would be wrong. In 1980, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, running for re-election under the cloud of the U.S. embassy in Tehran having been seized by radical Iranian students and 52 members of its staff being held hostage, was trying desperately to pull off an «October Surprise» to salvage his presidency. Unbeknownst to Carter, the campaign of his Republican rival, Ronald Reagan, had secretly negotiated an «arms-for-no-hostages» deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime in Iran.

In return for the shipment of embargoed military items, including spare parts for Iran’s U.S.-supplied F-14 Tomcat fighter planes and Phoenix air-to-air missiles for the planes, before the November 4 election, the Reagan team was promised by the Iranians that Tehran would hold the hostages until after the November election. Upon Reagan’s defeat of Carter, Iran held true to its promise and did not release the American hostages until noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 1981, the very moment Reagan raised his hand to take the presidential oath of office.

Although the media today is rife with reports of so-called «treasonous» contacts between Donald Trump advisers and officials of the Russian government, the media was not to be found anywhere in October 1980 when the Central Intelligence Agency, working with the Reagan campaign, contracted with a U.S. merchant vessel, the «SS Poet», to deliver the U.S. military contraband to Iran. In 1980, vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager William Casey secretly met with Iranian government officials, reportedly in Paris, and worked out the covert «arms-for-no-hostages» plan. The Reagan team was worried that Carter would beat them to the punch because of the White House’s own secret negotiations with Iranian representatives to have the hostages freed in October, giving Carter a much-need campaign boost.

The Reagan conspirators included, in addition to Bush and Casey, Robert Gates and Donald Gregg, the CIA’s moles inside the Carter National Security Council. Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, not happy with Carter’s human rights stance, may have given a «wink and a nod» to the treason. The entire caper was conducted without the knowledge of Stansfield Turner, Carter’s friend and U.S. Naval Academy classmate who served as CIA director.

The «SS Poet», a World War II-era U.S. merchant vessel, was at the center of the Reagan team’s treasonous plot. Little has been written about the fate of the vessel because the CIA arranged to have it sunk while outbound from the Persian Gulf after it delivered its weapons cache to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. The ship was officially listed as «lost at sea» somewhere in the mid-Atlantic after departing from Philadelphia’s Girard Point marine pier #3 on October 24, 1980. The ship was ostensibly bound with a cargo of 13,500 tons of corn for Port Said, Egypt, but, in reality, had military equipment loaded in its rear number four cargo, contraband bound for Iran.

The crew of 34 U.S. citizens was declared «missing at sea» by a U.S. Coast Guard board of inquiry, which was under heavy pressure from the CIA to cover up the ship’s fate in the Gulf. The Reagan team sweetened the deal with a cash payment to Iran. Gates was said to have overseen the transfer of money to an Iranian bank account at Banque Worms in Geneva.

The Coast Guard report on the «Poet’s» disappearance was tainted by an individual who claimed to have been a former third assistant engineer on the vessel. A year after the «Poet» disappeared, the witness told the Coast Guard, after the Board of Inquiry had already issued its conclusion about the fate of the ship, that the vessel was not seaworthy. However, this individual later was discovered to have been an impostor, likely hired by Casey’s CIA, who never served on board the «Poet».

The CIA’s cover story, dutifully echoed by the Coast Guard, was the Poet sank without a trace in three minutes and without a distress call. One of the Poet’s previous trips, in the months prior to sailing to Iran, was to Israel. The vessel had been chartered by Hawaiian Eugenia Corporation, the Poet’s owner and a firm with murky CIA links, to sail to Israel. There is a strong possibility that the Israelis rigged the ship with explosives that would be detonated after its delivery of weapons to Iran on behalf of the CIA and Reagan-Bush campaign plotters.

There was a feeble attempt by certain remaining pro-Carter elements within the CIA and Justice Department to investigate the involvement of a foreign power – Iran – in the 1980 election. A March 16, 1981, memo written by then-unconfirmed Associate Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani to the Acting Criminal Division chief, John Keeney, which was titled «CIA Referral – Alleged Foreign Government Interference With 1980 Presidential Election», suggests that the CIA referred to the Justice Department certain evidence that there was criminal activity involving a foreign power in the 1980 presidential election.

Keeney and Giuliani agree to draft a letter from Deputy Attorney General Edward C. Schmults to the CIA to ask for a full report on the criminal referral. The CIA report, which was never written, would have been available to Justice personnel on a strict need-to-know basis. It can be assumed that after Casey took over at the CIA, he immediately quashed the investigation of the involvement of Iran in the 1980 election.

In any case, the investigation was stopped dead in its tracks. The Attorney General at the time of the Giuliani memo was Reagan confidante William French Smith. Smith’s special assistant at the time was David Hiller, who later became the publisher, president, and CEO of the Los Angeles Times. Hiller’s fellow special assistant for Smith was John G. Roberts, Jr., later nominated by George W. Bush to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice, followed by his nomination to be Chief Justice.

The «Poet’s» official charter to sail a cargo of corn to Port Said was oddly appended with a «war risk» clause, even though Egypt was not in a state of war. The only state of war that existed at the time was in the Gulf between Iran and Iraq. The charter also involved Universal Shipping Company, a CIA front company headquartered in Rosslyn, Virginia, along with other firms controlled by CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson. Later convicted and imprisoned for smuggling weapons to Libya, Wilson, a «retired» CIA operative, contended that his weapons smuggling operations were carried out with the approval of the CIA.

There is an interesting current news peg to the story of the 1980 election and the «Poet.» The Iranian side in the «arms-for-no-hostages» conspiracy was led by the then-speaker of the Iranian parliament, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He would later become a key cog in the Iran-contra scandal that almost brought down the Reagan administration. Rafsanjani died recently at the age of 82. Considered a leading Iranian moderate, Rafsanjani traveled widely throughout the United States prior to the Iranian revolution in 1979 and he may have served as a deep cover CIA asset. With his death disappears from the scene another witness to the treachery involving the disappearance of the «SS Poet».

When the CIA wants to advance a meme that a foreign nation interfered in a U.S. election, it can coax its puppets in the media to hype the story, as seen now with the frivolous allegations about Russia and the Trump campaign. However, when the Langley boys want to bury their own chicanery and skullduggery in election interference, as is currently the case with CIA and British MI-6 involvement in the 2016 election on behalf of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton and as was the situation in 1980 with Iran and the Reagan campaign, the media dutifully follows.

Russia Supplants U.S. in Global War Against Jihadists

 

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 13.10.2015 | 11:23

A meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman (son of King Salman) ended on early Monday, October 12th. Agence France-Presse headlined “Vladimir Putin Meets Saudi Prince on ‘Political Solution’ in Syria,” and reported that, whereas the son of the Sunni fundamentalist Saudi King says that his father still insists on removing the Shiite secularist leader Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria and on ending Syria’s alliance with Shiite Iran, Prince Salman said that the Saudi King is “in favour of a political solution in Syria.” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was more forward in his statement about the meeting. He said: “The two parties confirmed that Saudi Arabia and Russia have similar objectives when it comes to Syria. Above all, it is to not let a terrorist caliphate take over the country.” Nothing was quoted from the Saudi side about any such opposition to ‘a terrorist caliphate,’ however; the Sauds have been the chief financial backers of Islamic jihad. (And here is what their followers in Syria are actually like.) However, the fact that the Saudi King sent his son to Russia to negotiate with Putin about Syria is yet another indication that the key player in settling the Syrian civil war is now Putin, not at all U.S. President Barack Obama.

The highly reliable German news-source, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN), headlined on October 11th (translated here as) “Russia and Iran Assume Leadership Role in Iraq, without the U.S.,” and reported that Russia has, upon the request of the Iraqi government, already gone beyond its anti-jihadist operation in Syria, and has “extended the fight against terrorism into Iraq, with the express permission of the Iraqi government.” DWN goes on to say, “In early October, the Iraqi government gave a free hand to Russia to extend the attacks against ISIS into Iraqi territory. One of the conditions for this was prior coordination of the air strikes with Iraq’s government.”

That is the same arrangement Russia has had, since the end of September, with the Syrian government. And, so, a Joint Intelligence Coordination Center (JICC) was established by Russia in Baghdad. This was announced on September 29th, whenReuters reported that, “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said … an information center was being established in Baghdad to share information between Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Russia has also agreed a separate such mechanism with Israel.”

Israel too is therefore also recognizing the handwriting on the wall, the switch from the U.S. to Russia, and is doing what it must to defeat ISIS; it’s joining behind Russia’s leadership in the effort. However, because of Israel’s hostile relationships with the other non-Russian members of the JICC, Russia has agreed to wall-off, or separate entirely, Israel’s Russian alliance, from the other nations’ Russian alliance. Russia is in a position to do this, because Russia, with its space-satellites and its other global intelligence-gathering assets, is at the hub-position on this entire intelligence gathering wheel about Syria. All of the other nations that are participating trust Vladimir Putin’s intelligence operation, to keep each participant’s shared interests in defeating jihadists, separated from all other issues within the Russian alliance. The alliance with Russia will thus not affect their respective unrelated security-interests. This is in Russia’s interests, because it maximally empowers Russia to crush the Saudis’ international jihadist operation, an operation that started when the U.S. and its long-time ally the Saud family, were joined together by Zbigniew Brzezinski of the U.S. Jimmy Carter Administration, to crush the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, by funding, training, and arming, “mujahideen” or fundamentalist Wahhabist Sunni (that is, Saudi) fighters to go there to kill supporters of the pro-Soviet government and other secular or non-Sunni influences there. The Sauds’ main competitor in the international oil-markets has been the leading former Soviet country, Russia.

The U.S.-Saudi alliance began in earnest in 1945, when the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cold War was just starting; and it has continued after the U.S.S.R.’s breakup, because Western oil companies and Sunni Arabic aristocrats (led by the Sauds, who had granted the Rockefellers’ oil companies the exploration-rights there) wanted the Cold War to continue even after Soviet Communism and the Soviet Union ended. This conflict is also a Western war against Shiite-majority nations, because the Sauds’ imperial ambitions are specifically jihad for a restoration of the Sunni Caliphpate but on a global level; and this is specifically the Saudi Wahhabist Salafist, the most aggressively fundamentalist, form of Sunni Islam. For examples: Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban, are all Wahhabist Salafist Muslims, and all have been funded mainly by Saudi royals.

The U.S. had started, in 1979, late in Jimmy Carter’s Administration, to arm the Saudi ‘mujahideen’ fighters who then were coming into Afghanistan to overthrow the pro-Soviet government there, so as to lure the Soviets into invading Afghanistan. “I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war’,” Carter’s National Security Adviser, David Rockefeller’s protégée (and co-Founder along with Rockefeller, of the Trilateral Commission) Brzezinski, said in a 1998 interview. After Brzezinski had succeeded at that, and the Soviet Union and its communism ended, Brzezinski has continued to advise American Presidents on what he sees as constituting the need now, to defeat Russia — a ‘need’ that U.S. President Barack Obama has strongly endorsed, such as by officially designating Russia as being by far the most “aggressive” nation of all. (Lots more ‘aggressive,’ for example, than the U.S.)

DWN continues: “Sources close to the Iraqi armed forces leadership give the current mood in the Iraqi security forces: The Russian air strikes against ISIS produced in the first week alone, more success than those of the US-led alliance in the entire last year. The establishment of a joint [Iraqi-Syrian-Iranian-Russian] intelligence-gathering center in Baghdad [the Joint Intelligence Coordination Center, or ‘JICC’] is therefore an expression of disappointed Iraqi expectations regarding the United States. … So, the US has announced that it will restrict the exchange of information with Iraq’s security forces.”

In other words: Iraq is, in a sense, switching from the U.S. side to the Russian side, in America’s resumption of its Cold War against the Soviet Union (but this time being waged by America against Russia alone).

On October 10th, Iran’s PressTV bannered, “US pulls aircraft carrier out of Persian Gulf as Russian ships enter,” and reported:

The United States has pulled the USS Theodore Roosevelt – a massive, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier – out of the Persian Gulf as Russian warships have entered the area.    

For the first time since 2007, the US Navy has now no aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, according to NBC News.

The warship was withdrawn from the Persian Gulf on Thursday, a day after Russia fired 26 long-range cruise missiles from its Caspian Flotilla against terrorists in Syria, Pentagon officials said.

US military officials claimed that the aircraft carrier, which houses about 5,000 sailors and 65 fighter jets, was withdrawn because it needed to undergo maintenance.

On October 3rd, I had headlined “The Western Alliance Is Crumbling,” and explained how the Obama Administration’s bombing campaigns in 2011 in pro-Russian Libya, and in 2013 in pro-Russian Syria, had created so many refugees now pouring into Europe, that it has ended up precipitating the end of the American Century, and the start of the end of the American empire, which had been rationalized until the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of communism there, as having been instead an ideological conflict, but now is clearly exposed as having been and as still being actually an attempt to extend the American Empire (the “Western Alliance,” The Atlantic Council, NATO, CENTCOM), not only up to Russia’s borders, but into Russia itself, the juiciest natural-resources prize of all.

Obama therefore won’t likely now be able to deliver, to his financial backers, Russia and its resources, such as he had been hoping to achieve in his second term — to start privatizing Russia’s oil and other natural resources to America’s aristocrats.

Perhaps his Barack Obama Presidential Center won’t be quite as palatial as he has been hoping. Perhaps far fewer people will have to die now in order to get it up and running. Perhaps the U.S. and Saudi aristocracies won’t go to nuclear war against Russia, after all. Perhaps NATO, which should have ended when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact did, in 1991, will now soon end.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Washingtonsblog.com

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Jimmy Carter on the American Oligarchy

August 02, 2015  /  Gilad Atzmon

For some peculiar reason American presidents seem to fail to grasp the scope of Jewish power while in office. It takes them years, sometime decades to comprehend the detrimental impact of The Lobby and its culture.

Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1981. It took him twenty-four years to point at the people who rule America and their corrosive impact.

Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”

Transcript:

HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. … Your thoughts on that?

CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.

source: https://firstlook.org/


 

 

YEHUDI ARABIA FINANCIAL AID TO TWIN SISTER ISRAEL

wahhabizionism

Ed-note (Sabba) –  This article asks whether money sealed israeli-saudi alliance. No, it did not. What sealed their alliance is far deeper and weighs much heavier than some billions of US Dollars.

Sheikh Imran Hosein rightly points out that these 2 states are sisters. It is the same power which acted as a midwife at their birth (Britain), it is the same power which is nurturing them, protecting them, defending them (the USA ).

The similarities between wahhabism and orthodox judaism are so striking that it is impossible not to see thru this ‘Mask of Zion’: wahhabism is nothing more than judaism with an islamic mask.

Wahhabis impose on their women what is called ‘niqab’ or the full veil: the only other people who impose on their women a full ‘niqab’ are some orthodox jews.

Wahhabis forbid their women to drive – like some of their brethren within the orthodox jewish community.

Wahhabis forbid their men to wear trousers that fall down to the heels/ankles: the maximum length of men’s trousers should be somewhere between the ankle and the calf muscles – like their orthodox jewish cousins.

Wahhabi law has death penalty for the victims of rape – as ordained by the Torah and as forbidden by Islam (Islam teaches the opposite: it is the rapist who is condemned to death).

Wahhabis use lapidation method, mainly against women, for adulterers and fornicators – as ordained in the Torah and again forbidden by the Quran.

Wahhabis like their jewish brethren have a profound hatred for Shia Muslims so much that they, for the first time in Islamic history, publicly declared them ‘unbelievers’ (while jews are OK because they are ‘people of the Book’).

Wahhabis like their jewish brethren also share the same hatred for Christians.

Etc. etc. etc.

In fact, not only are these 2 states sisters, but Yehudi Arabia, being the older sister, is in truth the main protector of the jewish state. They had to first create the jewish state of yehudi Arabia before they could create the jewish state in Palestine (cut off the head of the Islamic Ummah by putting their own men – the ibn saud – in charge of Mecca and Medina and in the process completely paralyzing the entire world of Islam).

And just like they created saudi arabia before they could create israel, the Holy Land and the world at large will not be free until Arabia is freed first. As long as the Arabian Peninsula is occupied, Palestine will remain occupied. Once Saudi Arabia falls, everything else will fall because Yehudi Arabia is perhaps the strongest shield israel has.

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/04/15/did-money-seal-israeli-saudi-alliance/

Did Money Seal Israeli-Saudi Alliance?

Special Report: The odd-couple relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel may have been sealed with more than a mutual desire to kiss-off Iran. According to an intelligence source, there was a dowry involved, too, with the Saudis reportedly giving Israel some $16 billion, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

For more than half a century, Saudi Arabia has tried to use its vast oil wealth to build a lobby in the United States that could rival the imposing Israel Lobby. At top dollar, the Saudis hired law firms and PR specialists – and exploited personal connections to powerful families like the Bushes – but the Saudis never could build the kind of grassroots political organization that has given Israel and its American backers such extraordinary clout.

Indeed, Americans who did take Saudi money – including academic institutions and non-governmental organizations – were often pilloried as tools of the Arabs, with the Israel Lobby and its propagandists raising the political cost of accepting Saudi largesse so high that many people and institutions shied away.

President Obama and King Salman Arabia stand at attention during the U.S. national anthem as the First Lady stands in the background with other officials. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But Saudi Arabia may have found another way to buy influence inside the United States – by giving money to Israel and currying favor with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over the past several years, as both Saudi Arabia and Israel have identified Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” as their principal enemies, this once-unthinkable alliance has become possible – and the Saudis, as they are wont to do, may have thrown lots of money into the deal.

According to a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts, the Saudis have given Israel at least $16 billion over the past 2 ½ years, funneling the money through a third-country Arab state and into an Israeli “development” account in Europe to help finance infrastructure inside Israel. The source first called the account “a Netanyahu slush fund,” but later refined that characterization, saying the money was used for public projects such as building settlements in the West Bank.

In other words, according to this information, the Saudis concluded that if you can’t beat the Israel Lobby, try buying it. And, if that is the case, the Saudis have found their behind-the-scenes collaboration with Israel extremely valuable. Netanyahu has played a key role in lining up the U.S. Congress to fight an international agreement to resolve a long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

Urged on by Netanyahu, the Republican majority and many Democrats have committed themselves to destroying the framework agreement hammered out on April 2 by Iran and six world powers, including the United States. The deal would impose strict inspections and other limits to guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful.

By crashing the deal, Israel and Saudi Arabia would open the door to more punitive sanctions on Iran and possibly clear the way for Israeli airstrikes, with Saudi Arabia granting over-flight permission to Israeli warplanes. The Saudi-Israeli tandem also might hope to pull in the U.S. military to inflict even more devastation on Iranian targets.

Neither the Israeli nor Saudi governments responded to requests for comment on Saudi payments into an Israeli account.

Congressional Acclaim

The reported Saudi-to-Israel money transfers put Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to a cheering joint session of the U.S. Congress in a different light, too. The Prime Minister’s bitter denunciations of Iran before hundreds of transfixed American lawmakers could be viewed as him demonstrating his value to the Saudi royals who could never dream of getting that kind of reaction themselves.

Indeed, as Congress now moves to sabotage the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Saudis could be finding that whatever money they invested in Israel is money well spent. The Saudis seem especially alarmed that the nuclear agreement would prompt the world community to lift sanctions on Iran, thus allowing its economy – and its influence – to grow.

To prevent that, the Saudis desperately want to draw the United States in on the Sunni side of the historic Sunni-Shiite conflict, with Netanyahu serving as a crucial middleman by defying President Barack Obama on the Iran deal and bringing the full force of the Israel Lobby to bear on Congress and on the opinion circles of Official Washington.

If Netanyahu and the Saudis succeed in collapsing the Iran nuclear framework agreement, they will have made great strides toward enlisting the United States as the primary military force on the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide, a dispute that dates back to the succession struggle after Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632.

This ancient feud has become a Saudi obsession over the past several decades, at least since Iran’s Shiite revolution overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979 and brought to power the Islamic government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Upset with the ouster of a fellow monarch, the Shah, and fearing the spread of Khomeini’s ascetic form of Shiite Islamic governance, the Saudi royals summoned Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a fellow Sunni, to Riyadh on Aug. 5, 1980, to encourage him to invade Iran.

According to top secret “Talking Points” that Secretary of State Alexander Haig prepared for a briefing of President Ronald Reagan after Haig’s April 1981 trip to the Middle East, Haig wrote that Saudi Prince Fahd said he told the Iraqis that an invasion of Iran would have U.S. support.

“It was … interesting to confirm that President [Jimmy] Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Fahd,” Haig wrote, in the document that I discovered in U.S. congressional files in 1994. Though Carter has denied encouraging the Iraqi invasion, which came as Iran was holding 52 U.S. diplomats hostage, Haig’s “Talking Points” suggest that the Saudis at least led Hussein to believe that the war had U.S. blessings.

Haig also noted that even after the overthrow of the Shah and the establishment of the Islamic state under Khomeini, Israel sought to maintain its clandestine relations with Iran by serving as an arms supplier. Haig reported that “Both [Egypt’s Anwar] Sadat and [Saudi Prince] Fahd [explained that] Iran is receiving military spares for U.S. equipment from Israel.”

Those Israeli weapons sales continued through the eight bloody years of the Iran-Iraq War with some estimates of the value reaching into the scores of billions of dollar. The Israelis even helped bring the Reagan administration into the deals in the mid-1980s with the so-called Iran-Contra arms shipments that involved secret off-the-books bank accounts in Europe and led to the worst scandal of Reagan’s presidency.

Rise of the Neocons

In the 1990s – with the Iran-Iraq war over and Iran’s treasury depleted – Israeli attitudes cooled toward its erstwhile trading partner. Meanwhile, American neocons – juiced by the demonstration of U.S. military supremacy against Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union leaving the U.S. as “the sole superpower” – began advising Netanyahu on employing “regime change” to alter the Mideast dynamic.

During Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign, prominent neocons including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith outlined the plan in a policy paper entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The document argued that “Israel can shape its strategic environment … by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

The overriding point of this neocon strategy was that by imposing “regime change” in Muslim nations that were deemed hostile to Israel, new friendly governments could be put in place, thus leaving Israel’s close-in enemies – Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon – without outside sponsors. Starved of money, these troublesome enemies would be forced to accept Israel’s terms. “The Realm” would be secured.

The neocons first target was Sunni-ruled Iraq, as their Project for the New American Century made clear in 1998, but Syria and Iran were next on the hit list. Syria is governed by the Assads who are Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and Iran is governed by Shiites. The neocon plan was to use U.S. military force or other means of subversion to take out all three regimes.

However, when the neocons got their chance to invade Iraq in 2003, they inadvertently tipped the Mideast balance in favor of the Shiites, since Iraq’s Shiite majority gained control under the U.S. military occupation. Plus, the disastrous U.S. war precluded the neocons from completing their agenda of enforced “regime change” in Syria and Iran.

With the new Iraqi government suddenly friendly with Iran’s Shiite leaders, Saudi Arabia became increasingly alarmed. Israel was also coming to view the so-called “Shiite crescent” from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut as a strategic threat.

Saudi Arabia, working with Turkey, took aim at the center of that crescent in 2011 by supporting a Sunni-led opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a set of protests that quickly spiraled into bloody terrorist attacks and harsh military repression.

By 2013, it was clear that the principal fighters against Assad’s government were not the fictional “moderates” touted by the U.S. mainstream media but Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and a hyper-brutal Al-Qaeda spinoff that arose in resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and evolved into the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or simply the “Islamic State.”

Israeli Preference

To the surprise of some observers, Israel began voicing a preference for Al-Qaeda’s militants over the relatively secular Assad government, which was viewed as the protectors of Alawites, Shiites, Christians and other Syrian minorities terrified of the Saudi-backed Sunni extremists.

In September 2013, in one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post inan interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Oren expanded on his position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.

“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

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Haikal’s Vision of the world in 2015

رؤية هيكل للعالم في عام 2015

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Are human rights activists today’s warmongers?

May 25, 2014, Boston Globe

 

By Stephen Kinzer

Almost everyone likes the idea of human rights. The phrase itself is freighted with goodness. Supporting human rights is like supporting world peace.

The modern human rights movement began as a band of outsiders, fighting governments on behalf of the faceless and voiceless. President Jimmy Carter brought it into the American foreign policy establishment by naming an outspoken assistant secretary of state for human rights. This meant that concern for the poor, the brutalized, and the imprisoned would be heard in the highest councils of government.

Now, several decades after the human rights movement traded its outsider status for influence in Washington, it is clear that this has produced negative as well as positive results. The movement has become a global behemoth. Sometimes it functions as a handmaiden to the power it was once dedicated to combating.

The most appalling result of this process in the United States is that some human rights activists now regularly call for using force to resolve the world’s problems. At one time, “human rights” implied opposition to war. Now some of the most outspoken warmongers in Washington are self-proclaimed human rights advocates.

They were among the loudest promoters of war to depose the Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy. That war cast Libya into chaos and set off a chain of events that has brought radical jihadist rule to large parts of Mali.

In recent months, President Obama’s “human rights” team has pushed for escalated intervention in Syria and the dispatch of more troops to Afghanistan. Human rights activists — sometimes supported by well-meaning but pitifully ignorant celebrities — have urged that American military power be used to capture a warlord in Uganda, impose order in the Ivory Coast, crush rebels in South Sudan, and locate kidnap victims in Nigeria.

This is a radical development in the history of the human rights movement. Once it was generals, defense contractors, and chest-thumping politicians who saw war as the best solution to global problems. Now human rights activists play that role. Some seem to have given up on diplomacy and statecraft. Instead they promote the steady militarization of American foreign policy.

These trigger-happy human rights activists rotate in and out of government jobs. This month more than 100 scholars, activists, and Nobel Peace Prize winners protested against this revolving door in an open letter to Human Rights Watch, which, thanks to an astonishing $100 million gift from the financier George Soros, has become king of the human rights hill.

Their letter says that, although Human Rights Watch claims to defend and protect human rights, its ties to the American military and security establishments “call into question its independence.” It names prominent Human Rights Watch figures who have served in the State Department and CIA; condemns the group for supporting “the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet”; and asserts that it produces biased reports exaggerating human rights abuses in countries the United States dislikes, like Venezuela, while being gentler to American allies like Honduras.

“HRW’s close relationships with the US government suffuse such instances with the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the letter says.

Also this month, news came that a French publisher will issue a book version of a devastating essay by a former American diplomat, Richard Johnson, called “The Travesty of Human Rights Watch on Rwanda,” that has been circulating on the Internet for the last year. It is a detailed indictment of the policies Human Rights Watch wants Rwanda to adopt. They include demands that the Rwandan government end restrictions on hate speech and invite the former genocide army back from its bases in the Congo so it can compete for power.

In his paper, Johnson accuses Human Rights Watch of waging a “viscerally hostile” campaign against Rwanda from behind an “aura of sanctity.” He asserts that this campaign “is a threat to that country’s peace and stability.”

“The mendacity and bias of HRW’s political campaign against the post-genocide Rwandan government undermines the overall credibility of Western human rights advocacy,” he concludes.

The world needs fearless truth-tellers. Some human rights advocates are. Others have succumbed to the temptations of power. Their movement is in danger of losing its way.

 

RELATED: Nobel Peace Laureates to Human Rights Watch: Close Your Revolving Door to U.S. Government, May 12, 2014, Alternet

Presidential Rule by Deception: Obama, the Master Con-man

Barack ObamaIntroduction

In an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements – entertaining the people while working for the wealthy.
Every US President has engaged, in one fashion or another, in ‘play acting’ to secure popular approval, neutralize hostility and distract voters from the reactionary substance of their foreign and domestic policies.

Every substantive policy is accompanied by a ‘down home’ folksy message to win public approval. This happened with President ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s revival of large-scale proxy wars in Afghanistan in the post-Viet Nam War period; Ronald Reagan’s genocidal wars in Central America, George Bush Sr.’s savaging of Iraq in the First Gulf War; ‘Bill’ Clinton’s decimation of social welfare in the US while bombing civilians in Yugoslavia and deregulating Wall Street; George Bush Jr.’s invasion and partition of Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempted coup in Venezuela and massive tax cuts for the rich; and Barack Obama’s staggering bailout of the biggest Wall Street speculators, unprecedented launching of five consecutive wars, and arrest and deportation of millions of immigrant workers. Each President has elaborated a style in order to ingratiate himself with the public while pursuing his reactionary agenda.

In rhetoric, appearance and in public persona, it is ‘de rigueur’ for US Presidents to present themselves as an ‘everyman’ while committing political actions – including war crimes worthy of prosecution.

Each President, in his ‘play acting’, develops a style suitable to the times. They constantly strive to overcome the public’s suspicion and potential hostility to their overt and covert policies designed to build empire as domestic conditions deteriorate. However, not all play acting is the same: each President’s ‘populist’ style in defense of oligarchic interests has its characteristic nuances.

 The Carter Feint: ‘Human Rights’ Wars in the Post-Viet Nam War Era

‘Jimmy’ Carter was elected President at a time of the greatest mass anti-war upheaval in US history. His campaign projected a soft-spoken, conciliatory President from humble roots reaching out to the anti-war electorate and solemnly pledging to uphold human rights against domestic militarists and their overseas despotic allies. To that end, he appointed a liberal human rights advocate Pat Derian to the State Department and a veteran Cold Warrior, Zbigniew (Zbig) Brzezinski, as National Security Advisor and foreign policy strategist.

Duplicity reared its head immediately: Carter openly criticized the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua – while privately telling the dictator to ignore the public criticisms and assuring him of continuing US support.[1] As the Sandinista revolution advanced toward victory, Carter convoked a meeting of Latin American leaders urging them to join in a joint military intervention with the US to ‘save lives’ and to prevent the popular Nicaraguan revolution from taking power and dismantling the dictator’s army. It soon became clear to the leaders of Latin America that Carter’s mission was a thinly- veiled ‘humanitarian’ version of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ and they declined. When Carter realized that, without the fig leaf of Latin American participation, a US-led invasion would arouse universal opposition, he abandoned the project. The political climate would not support a unilateral US invasion so soon after the end of the war in Indochina .

However, Carter soon re-launched the Cold War, reviving military spending and pouring billions of dollars into funding, arming and training tens of thousands of fundamentalist Jihadists from around the world to invade Afghanistan and overthrow its leftist, secular government.

Carter’s policy of re-militarization and launching of large-scale and long-term secret CIA operations in alliance with the most brutal dictators and monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was accompanied by sanctimonious speeches about human rights and token appeals to protect ‘civilians’. In this regard, Carter became our founding father of the double discourse: a con man that publically condemned the jailing and torture by Pinochet of political opponents in Chile while orchestrating what would become a decade-long blood bath in Afghanistan with millions of victims.

 Reagan: Geniality with Genocide

Up until the ascendancy of Barack Obama, the avuncular President, Ronald Reagan, was acknowledged as the ‘master con-man’, by virtue of his Hollywood acting experience. Reagan was and remained a disciplined and hardened backer of policies designed to concentrate wealth while smashing unions, even as he entertained the flag-waving hard hat construction workers with his jokes about ‘limousine liberals’ and Cadillac welfare queens. The knowing wink and clever two-liners were matched by an adaptation of morality tales from his cowboy films. Reagan, in his role as ‘the righteous sheriff’, backed the mercenary contras as they invaded Nicaragua and destroyed schools and clinics and the genocidal military dictators in El Salvador and Guatemala who murdered hundreds of thousands of Indians and peasants.

Uncle Reagan’s friendly chats would describe how he had stopped the communist ‘outlaws’ (peasants, workers and Indians) of Central America from flooding across the Rio Grande and invading California and Texas. His tales resonated with mass audiences familiar with the racist Hollywood cowboy film version of unshaven Mexican bandits crossing the ‘ US ’ border. The clean-shaven, straight-talking, ‘stand-up for America’ President Ronald Reagan was elected and re-elected by a resounding majority in the midst of CIA-backed mujahedeen victories over the government and secular civil structure of Afghanistan, Pentagon- supported Israeli slaughter of Palestinian refugees in their camps in Lebanon and the mass genocide of scores of thousands of indigenous villagers in Guatemala.

When news reports seeped out about the mass graves of poor villagers in Guatemala , Reagan resorted to colloquial language right out of a Hollywood film to defend General Rios Mont : “He’s getting a bum rap”. In defending the brutal dictator of Guatemala , Reagan replaced Carter’s sanctimonious phrasing in favor of down-to-earth macho talk of a no-nonsense sheriff.
In substance, both Carter and Reagan were rebuilding the US war machine after the debacle of Viet Nam ; they were setting up a global network of client dictators, Muslim fundamentalists and hypocritical Anglo-American humanitarians interventionists.

Bush Senior: Uni-Polarity and the Ticket to Uncontested Imperial Conquests
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the US and Western Europe re-conquered, pillaged and neo-colonized Eastern Europe . West Germany annexed East Germany . And a predator-gangster oligarchy in Russia seized over a trillion dollars of public assets, impoverishing millions and laundered the illicit funds via elaborate banking operations on Wall Street and in London and Tel Aviv.

President George Bush Sr. embraced the doctrine of a unipolar world – free from rival super-power constraints and independent Third World resistance. ‘Poppy’ Bush believed the US could impose its will by force anywhere and at any time without fear of retaliation. He believed he was heir to a new imperial order of free markets, free elections and unrestrained plunder. The first war he would launch would be in the Middle East – the invasion, massive bombing and destruction of Iraq . It was followed by an unprecedented expansion of NATO bases in the countries of Eastern Europe . The spread of neo-liberalism led to the naked pillage of public assets throughout Latin American and Eastern Europe . The Empire ruled the Muslim world through an arc of client dictators from Tunisia , Egypt , and Saudi Arabia to Pakistan .

Bush adopted the persona of the ‘happy warrior’ – the invincible American President who had triumphed over the Evil Empire. Meanwhile, the domestic economy deteriorated under the enormous costs of the massive military build-up and gave rise to a crisis that hurt the electorate. Bush’s personal rigidity and lack of theatricality prevented him from playing the con-man – unlike his predecessor, the actor Reagan. Even as he extolled the prowess of the US military, his career as an ‘insider’ corporate operative and CIA director did not provide him with the demagogic skills necessary for a successful re-election.

While Bush celebrated his overseas victories, he failed to attract a popular following: His pinched face and wooden upper-crust smile was no match for ‘Cowboy’ Reagan’s street corner geniality or even ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s pious intonations of human rights and Christian values … Deception and demagoguery are crucial elements in a re-election campaign – and so Bush, Sr. gave way for the next Presidential con-man-in-chief, Bill Clinton.

The Clinton-Con: Black Churches , Welfare Cuts and the Wall Street Warrior

Bill Clinton, like Ronald Reagan, turned out to be a Wall Street populist .With his folksy Arkansas intonations he preached messages of hope in black churches while diligently applying the free-market lessons he had learned from his Wall Street mentors. Tooting the saxophone and oozing compassion, Clinton told the poor that he could ‘feel their pain’, while inflicting misery on single mothers forced to leave their children and take minimum-wage jobs in order to retain any public assistance. He joined hands with labor union bosses at Labor Day festivities, while fast-tracking job-killing free-trade treaties (like NAFTA) that devastated the American working class. Bill Clinton enthusiastically sent bombers over Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities for several weeks, destroying its factories, hospitals, schools, power plants, radio and TV stations and bridges, as well as the Chinese Embassy, in support of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and its separatist war against Belgrade . Clinton bombed civilians and their vital infrastructure, a war crime in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, to the ecstatic cheers of many Western liberals, progressives, social democrats and not a few Marxists as well as many Jihadists. On the home front, this self-proclaimed ‘people’s candidate’ ripped to shreds all restraints on banking speculation by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, New Deal legislation enacted to protect against massive banking swindles. This opened the floodgates to massive financial manipulation, which destroyed the pensions of many millions of workers.[2]

Clinton’s policies laid the groundwork for the information technology and Stock Market crash of 2000-01. His appointee, Alan Greenspan, created the conditions leading to speculative financial frenzy and subsequent economic crash of 2008. Bill Clinton’s stand-up comic performances in black churches, his back slapping encounters with labor bureaucrats and his embrace of feminists and others just raised the rhetorical bar for future aspiring Wall Street warlords in the White House. It would take eight years and the election of Barack Hussein Obama to finally surpass Bill Clinton as Con-Man-In Chief.

Bush Junior: A Yale Man with a Texas Drawl
President George Bush, Junior’s regime launched two major wars and backed two Israeli assaults on Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza – the world’s largest open-air prison. He virtually eliminated taxes on billionaires while overseeing the geometrical growth of the domestic police state apparatus; and he unleashed the biggest speculative bubble and crash since the Great Depression. He lowered the living standards for all Americans except the top 10% of the population – and despite these disasters and despite his lack-luster performance as a con-man, he was re-elected.

His handlers and backers did their best to market their boy: his Ivy League credentials and New England background was replaced by a transparently phony Texas accent; tinny, whiney sound bites, reminiscent of his father’s, were replaced by a Texas ‘ranchers’ homely drawl. His ‘just-folks’ grammatical mistakes may have been mocked by the liberals but they resonated deeply with fundamentalist Christians – who would never have recognized the Phillips Exeter Academy-Yale Skull and Bones boy in their Commander-in Chief.

President Bush, Jr. was decked out in the uniform of a ‘Top Gun’ fighter pilot to polish his military credentials tarnished by revelations that the millionaire-playboy had gone AWOL during his service in the National Guard. His silly ‘Mission Accomplished’ claim that the Iraq war had been won in the first months after the invasion was rudely corrected by the huge outbreak of Iraqi resistance against the occupier. Bush handed over foreign policymaking, especially pertaining to the Middle East , to a small army of Jewish Zionists, aided and abetted by notorious militarists, like Cheney and Rumsfeld. Most major political events were handled by his Cabinet thugs – Secretary of State Colin Powell shamelessly fabricated the ‘evidence’ of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in his performance before the United Nations. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz invented Afghanistan ’s ties to the planners of 9/11.

Cheney and his Zionist troika of Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and ‘Scooter’ Libby trumpeted the ‘global war on terror’ while Michael Chertoff, Michael Mukasey and Stuart Levey conducted a domestic war against the Bill of Rights and US Constitutional freedoms, defending torture, jailing thousands of Muslims, punishing businesses trading with Iran and labeling US opponents of Israel’s war crimes as ‘security threats’. Bush, Jr. just nodded his approval, letting the “big fellas have a piece of the action”. With Junior, there was no peace demagoguery just plain talk to plain folks and- “Let the bombs fall and the Capital flow”. Bush did not have to go preaching to black churches (he had a black Secretary of State and National Security Adviser to do his dirty work without the cant); Bush never claimed that Israel got the ‘bum rap’ when it was charged with genocidal crimes. Under Bush, Jr., war criminals did not have to ‘sugar-coat’ their crimes. While occupying the White House, Bush signed off on the multi-trillion-dollar bailout for Wall Street and then just went off to tend his cows and chop wood at the Texas ranch.

Bush’s ‘style’ was a combination of ‘laid back’ and ‘straight forward’: he simply committed war crimes, protected Wall Street swindles and expanded the police state, without claiming otherwise. As the endless wars dragged on, as the stock market flopped under its own fraud and manipulation and the increasingly repressive legislation provoked debate, Bush just shrugged his shoulders and finished out his term in office without flourish or fanfare: “Y’all can’t win ‘em all. Let the next guy try his hand”.

Barack Obama: The Master of Deceit

From the beginning of his Presidential campaign, Obama demonstrated his proficiency as the master of all cons. He spoke passionately against torture while consulting with the torturers; he condemned Wall Street speculators while appointing key Street operatives as economic advisers. He promised a new deal in the Middle East , especially for Palestinians and then appointed a dual citizen, Israeli-US, Rahm Emmanuel (son of an Israeli Irgun terrorist) to be his most intimate Presidential advisor. Honolulu born and bred, Barack modulated his voice according to the audience, adopting a Baptist minister’s cadence for the black audiences while assuming the professorial tone of an Ivy League lawyer for his Wall Street contributors.

He hob-knobbed with Hollywood celebrities and Silicon billionaires, who bankrolled the fairy tale of his ‘historic breakthrough’ – the First Afro-American President who would speak for all Americans – nay for the entire world! Millions of giddy camp followers, white, black, old and young, the trade unionists and community activists alike were willingly deceived. They had chosen to disregard the fact that Barack Obama’s key advisers were rabid militarists, big bankers, corporate CEO’s, die-hard Zionists and Wall Street manipulators.

Indeed Obama’s supporters were enchanted by the phony rhetoric, the demagogy, the ‘populist style’, and the fake ‘authenticities’. Here was the man who promised to end the wars, close the torture concentration camp in Guantanamo , bring Wall Street to heel, repeal the Patriot Act and restore the Bill of Rights. And he was ‘their guy’ – shooting hoops in an urban playground – something Bush had never done! In truth, Barack Hussein Obama did a lot that Bush never dared to do – he surpassed Bush by far in committing war crimes against humanity – pushing for more military adventures abroad and police state repression at home. He exceeded by far any President in US history in assuming dictatorial police powers, in waging multiple wars while directing the massive transfer of state revenues to Wall Street bankers. President Obama, hands down, will be regarded as the greatest con-man President in American history. The Carters, Reagans and Clintons all pale in comparison: the enormous gap between style and substance, promise and performance, peace and war, capital and labor has never been greater.

It is President Obama’s hollow eloquence that raised the hopes of millions at home and abroad only to condemn them to an inferno of endless wars. It is the perversity of his rhetoric which attracts the Latino vote with promises of immigrant citizenship while his policy has been fill detention centers with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and their families. His soaring rhetoric promising justice for Muslims in Cairo was followed by the bloody bombing of Tripoli, the torture and slaughter of the Libyan patriot President Gadhafi; the broken promises to the Palestinians contrasts with the embrace of the bloody Israeli warlords.

Obama far out-paced President Bush’s drone attacks in Pakistan , Yemen and Afghanistan , bombings which targeted farmers, whole families and famished orphans in their schools. Soaring moral and ethical pronouncements accompany Obama’s arming and praising the 40,000 Muslim fundamentalist mercenaries sent to degrade and shatter the secular Syrian state. The pretexts for mass killing fall from his lips like maggots on a rotten corpse: his blatant lies about the use of poison gas in Syria as the government in Damascus confronts a foreign mercenary invasion; the lurid tales of fabricated massacres in Benghazi ( Libya ) and the false claims of stolen elections in Venezuela . Obama’s rhetoric converts executioners into victims and victims into executioners.

President Barack Obama promised a comprehensive health care overhaul for America and then presented the electorate with a confusing series of obligatory payments for plans designed by for-profit private health insurance companies. Obama ‘defended social security’ by raising the age of retirement, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of workers in hazardous occupations would die before ever receiving any benefits after a lifetime of obligatory contributions. Obama solemnly promised to defend Medicare and then proposed to reduce its budget by a trillion dollars over a decade.

Obama claims a presidential prerogative of ‘defending American interests’ by ordering the assassination of whomever his million-member secret police state apparatus designates as a security threat – including American citizens – without trial, without recourse to habeas corpus.

In the White House Rose Garden President Barack Obama strolls arm-in-arm with his wife and children, a family man, true to his promises… While in Aleppo a young teen, a street vendor, is beheaded before his parents and neighbors by fanatical ‘freedom-fighters’ praised and supported by the President. The boy’s alleged crime was blasphemy. The murdered teen has joined the scores of thousands of Syrians killed and the hundreds of thousands who will join them, as Obama has decided to openly arm the mercenaries.

Casual, open collar, President Obama jokes as he walks and talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the sumptuous estate of a California billionaire, offering friendship and peace – shaking hands for the cameras with a scorpion in his palm. The smiling Obama has ceaselessly dispatched his envoys to Asia, Latin America, Oceana and Africa to incite claims and conflicts against Beijing . Obama believes that his own ‘personal magic’ will blind the Chinese to the fact that China is being encircled by US air and maritime bases. He seems to believe that the Chinese will ignore his efforts to forge US-centered trade pacts which specifically exclude China .

The master ‘confidence-man’ sincerely believes in his power to move and mystify the public, pick the pockets of his adversaries and make his victims believe they have been in the presence of a world-class statesman. In fact, Obama has been playing the role of a street hustler living off the earnings and lives of his people while handing them over to his corporate bosses and pimps for Israel .

Obama fills internment camps with hundreds of thousands of Latino immigrant workers while promising a ‘roadmap to citizenship’ to the cheers of Mexican-American Democratic Party vote hustlers!

Obama received 95% of the Afro-American votes, while the income gap between blacks and whites widens and unemployment and poverty figures soar. Obama, the first ‘Afro-American President’, has bombed and intervened in more African countries, backing mercenary armies in Libya and Somalia and establishing more military bases throughout the black continent than the last five ‘white’ Presidents … So much for the self-proclaimed “historic breakthrough of a Black President ending centuries of racism”.

It’s enough for Obama to appoint other black police state thugs and foreign interventionists, like Eric Holder and Susan Rice, to win the cheers of liberals even as their own security files grow in the data warehouses of the world’s biggest spying agencies.

One cynic, commenting on the long-standing love affair between Obama and white liberals, observed that ‘the more he screws them the better they like him … Even as he marches them off to jail, they would take care to note on his behalf, that the barred windows have curtains – something Bush would never have allowed.’

Conclusion

For sheer span of broken promises, of systematic lies in pursuit of wars and financial manipulation in the name of peace and social justice , of consistent and bold aggrandizement of executive power over the life and death of US citizens in the name of security, Obama has set the standard of political deception and demagogy far beyond past and probable future US Presidents.

The political context of his ascent to power and his deep links to the military-financial-Zionist networks insured his success as a premier confidence man.

President George Bush, Jr., the cringing, fading war-monger engaged in prolonged, costly wars and facing the collapse of the entire banking and financial sector, provided Candidate Obama with an easy target. Obama exploited the mass revulsion of the American people, longing for change. His soaring rhetoric and vacuous promise of ‘change’ attracted millions of young activists … The problem is that in their enthusiasm and blind adherence to ‘identity politics’ with its claims that all ‘blacks’ and ‘women’ are oppressed and therefore guaranteed to promote peace and justice — facilitated Obama’s con-game and political hustle.

Obama, once in office, not only deepened and widened the scope of President Bush, Jr’s wars, massive spy apparatus and corporate profiteering; he bamboozled the vast majority of his liberal-labor supporters in the Democratic Party! Barack Obama conned the Democratic Party Congressional liberals and they, in turn, conned their constituents into supporting this fraud.

The costs of President Obama’s two-faced policies are enormous: democracy has given way to a police state openly defended by the President and Congressional leaders; Wall Street’s recovery and corporate profiteering is fast destroying public health and social security. Barack Obama’s multiple endless wars and interventions are destroying vast cities, infrastructure, entire cultures while and killing and impoverishing millions of people from Libya to Palestine , from Syria to Iran . The economic sanctions against Iran , the provocative encirclement and isolation of China , and the campaign to destabilize Venezuela are the centerpieces of Obama’s ‘pivot to empire’. These policies portend even greater world-shattering catastrophes.

Unmasking the con-man is a first step requiring that we expose the tricks of the con-game. The politics of deception and demagogy thrives by directing popular attention to style and rhetoric, not substance. The solemn and pious cant of ‘Jimmy’ Carter distracted from his launch of the rabid Jihadists against the secular administration of Afghanistan . Uncle Ronald Reagan’s geniality and populist TV patter covered-up his blood baths in Central America and mass firing of the unionized air controllers and jailing of union leaders. ‘Bill’ Clinton’s show of empathy for the poor and embrace of ‘feel-good’ politics neutralized opposition as he bombed Yugoslavia into a pre-industrial age while his domestic policies kicked vulnerable single mothers from welfare programs. They all paled before the grand con-master Obama, billed as the ‘first black’ President, a community organizer (who disowned his sponsor into the black communities of Chicago, Rev. Wright, for his anti-war, anti-imperial stand) has capitalized on his racial credentials to garner the vote of guilty-ridden, soft-headed liberals and marginalized blacks in order to serve the interests of Wall Street and Israel.

Disarming these con-men and women requires exposing the nature of their demagogic populist styles and focusing on substantive politics. The decisive criteria need to be class politics that are defined by fundamental class alignments, between capital and labor regarding budgets, income, taxes, social spending, financing and property rights. ‘Shooting hoops’ in ghetto playgrounds is a con-man’s distraction while his budget cuts close hospitals and schools in black and poor neighborhoods.

The extravaganzas, featuring sports and entertainment celebrities to promote imperial wars, are the ‘con’ to undermine international solidarity for war victims and the unemployed. President Obama, the confidence man, is still performing while sowing destruction.

It’s time for the deceived, the disillusioned and the deprived to stand-up and shout! “We are deceived no more. Its time you were put on trial for Crimes against Humanity!”

Dutch PM: ‘Israel should be in Germany’


On November 8, 2012, Dutch daily Telegraaf quoted former Dutch prime minister Dries Van Agt as saying that Jews should have been given a safe homeland in Germany instead of Palestine – as Palestinians had nothing to do with the Nazi Holocaust – which was committed by the Frankist Jews, according to Rabbi Wolf Gunther Plaut (died 2012).
Jews need a safe place. Why couldn’t they get a safe place in Germany, at the time?”, he said while adding: “It would be more logical for Jews to have gotten a piece of land in Germany as the Middle East had nothing to do with World War II.”

Andreas Antonius Maria ( Dries) Van Agt (born 1931) served Prime Minister of Netherlands from 1977-1982. Earlier he had served as country’s Justice Minister (1971-77) and Deputy Prime Minister (1973-77). Dries Van Agt also served as Dutch ambassador to the US and Japan.

On June 27, 2008, Israeli daily Ha’aretz published an interview of Dries Van Agt in which the paper equated him with ‘anti-Semites’ like former US president Jimmy Carter and Russian-Israeli Jewish writer Israel Shamir.

Regrettably, his anti-Israel views are not that unusual in the Netherlands these days. They are shared by a number of politicians from different parties and persuasions. While they are quite mainstream on the political left, these views are by no means confined to the left, as Van Agt’s example shows,” claimed Ha’aretz.

In February 2006 – professor James Petras in an article had claimed that Netherlands is totally controlled by pro-Israel groups and Mossad. He was commenting on why it was the Jewish Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, who solicited, selected and published the anti- Islam cartoons?

Dries Van Agt doesn’t urge the world to “wipe Israel off map” but criticizes the Zionist regime for its Nazi-like treatment of Native Palestinians. He has condemned suicide attacks against civilians in his speeches and on his personal website. However, he supports Palestinians’ rights to armed resistance under international laws. He also advocates the Palestinians’ right of return to their homes from where they were uprooted by the invading European Jewish terrorist groups. He supports sanctions, boycotts and divestment from Israel, to make the Zionist regime apply United Nations resolutions to resolve Israel-Palestinian bomb.

In fact what Dries Van Agt said now – Mahtama Gandhi had told Russian Jew, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist congress, who later became the first president of the Zionist entity – that German Jews should stay put in their motherland and demand equal rights by non-violent protests. Gandhi had rejected the idea of a Jewish State in the Promised Land by pointing out that the “Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract.” 
 
Gandhi cnnot be called an anti-Semite, as his Jewish biographer, Joseph Lelyveld, has claimed in the book, ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India’ that Gandhi has affair with German Jewish gay Dr. Hermann Kallenbach.

In 1948, India’s envoy at the UN Security Council, V.K. Krishna Menon also made a similar statement. “We agree that the Holocaust happened in Europe and was carried out by the German Nazis – Should not the Jews be compensated by awarding them the most fertile state of Germany (Bavaria) as a Jewish homeland? Why should the Palestinians made to pay for the crimes of others?”

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Egypt Islamists to honour peace deal with Israel: Carter

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.htmlFormer US president Jimmy Carter assures all Islamists in Egypt expressed “eagerness” to uphold Camp David peace deal between Egypt and Israel

AFP , Friday 13 Jan 2012

Former US president Jimmy Carter said on Friday that Islamist parties, who have taken political centre stage in Egypt’s first post-revolution legislative polls, have vowed to honour the peace treaty with Israel.

“All of the parties involved (in the election) have expressed eagerness to continue with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt,” Carter told reporters in Cairo.
The former president was presenting the Carter Centre’s findings in the first elections since a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.
Carter, who was directly involved in the 1978 and 1979 Camp David Accords that led to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, said the agreements had two parts: peace with Israel and the guarantee of Palestinian rights.
Regarding peace with Israel, “that part of the accords has been basically approved and honoured,” Carter said.
But “the rights of Palestinians have been violated with sometimes tacit approval from Washington and also from Cairo,” Carter said.
“All of the political parties and presidential candidates with whom I have met assured me that both aspects of the Camp David accords will be honoured in the future,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, has publicly pledged its commitment to the deal.
“When I questioned the Salafists about this, they assured me they had no intention of rejecting the peace agreement,” Carter said. He was referring to Al-Nur, the party representing an ultra-conservative brand of Islam that has claimed second place in the landmark polls after the FJP.
In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Jewish ‘Vengeance’ and Mufti’s residence

>Posted on January 19, 2011 by rehmat1|

The World Zionist movement propagandists are master in the field of character assassination of both friends and foes. Their victims list includes Adolf Hitler, also known as the Founder of Israel; Al-Haj Mufti Amin al-Husseini for his resistance to the mass illegal immigration of European Jewry to British mandate Palestine, and lately of former US President Jimmy Carter, who gave Camp David to Israel but later received the title of ‘anti-Semite’ for calling the Zionist entity an ‘apartheid state’ in his book and meeting Hamas – and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for criticizing the Zionist entity for its Zionazi actions.

After Mufti’s heirs complained to the Secretary General of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin – he condemned the Zionist entity for demolishing the residence (Shepherds Hotel) of late Mufti of Al-Quds, Al-Haj Amin al-Husseini (1895-1974).

The hotel, a villa built in 1935, was to serve as the residence of  Haj Amin al-Husseini, the late grand mufti of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). The mufti, a prominent Palestinian nationalist leader, was sought by the British for his earlier anti-colonial activities in Iraq and later in Palestine, where the Zionists were trying to establish their presence.  As a result, he fled the country and took refuge during World War Two in Italy and Germany.
After Israel occupied East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, the property, was confiscated under its absentee property laws that apply to abandoned properties of absent Palestinians who were chased out of their homeland. It was later sold to a Miami-based American-Jewish casino billionaire, Irving Moskowitz, who is said to be “a long-time supporter of Jewish building and settlement in East Jerusalem”. Last week, Jewish settlers used three bulldozers to demolish the historic Shepherds Hotel located in the heart of Sheikh Jarrah to build 20 new units for the foreign Jewish settlers. The okey for this heinous act was given by Benji Netanyahu in 2009. See the demolition video below.

Lenni Brenner, a Zionist Jew historian, in his book Zionism in the Age of Dictators has documented how the Nazis patronized the Zionists and the Mufti’s request for banning Jewish immigration fell on duff ears thanks to Adolf Eichmann who was a protege of Zionist von Mildenstein and like his mentor, had studied Hebrew. Eichmann accompanied by his wife had visited British mandate Palestine and the trip was fully paid by th WZO. The SS records confiscated by the American after the D-Day, record a conversation between Eichmann and one Zionist leader, saying: “Mr. Eichmann, believe me that if we Zionists were not Jewish, we would have been Nazis (in fact there were 150,000 German Jews in the Nazi Army). You Nazis consider the Aryan race to belong to the perfect people and the German people as the most perfect. We also consider ourselves a perfect people, and Zionists, the most perfect ones”.

Israel-born British writer, blogger and the renowned jazz player, Gilad Atzmon describes the Jewish Vengeance, as: “Zionists love to see themselves as revengeful and merciless. In Israel, Samson who is nothing less than a genocidal murderer is regarded as an eternal hero. He even managed to get an IDF battalion called after him. It is not a secret that the fantasy of retribution is deeply imbued within the Zionist psyche  and Israeli politics…..”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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